By Elaine Rohse • Columnist • 

Rohse: Here in the digital age, finger foods all the rage

In this column, there is a gift for you.

It’s not like a Christmas present with ribbons and bows. Rather, it is a gustatory gift made possible by the etiquette gurus — the masters of etiquette — who know all about manners.

It is a list of some of the foods that we can eat with our fingers, with the approval of these authorities, and thus enjoy without parental frowns. Additionally, the master etiquette gurus have compiled benefits that we receive from eating with our fingers.

Even if your favorite food is not on the list, this could be the start of a mass movement toward eating in a method used long before cutlery, and your favorite food may soon be added. Eating with fingers seems to make any food more enjoyable.

Many countries that hadn’t used cutlery have now switched to knife, fork and spoon. Many that once used basic cutlery now are users of fingers, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and southern Malaysia.

The knife originally had a rounded tip. Later, they were sharpened into slender tips used to spear pieces of food and to pick the teeth.

But these thin and sharp blades had guests stabbing themselves in the mouth at formal dinners, sometimes incurring serious mouth wounds.

In 1669, Louis XIV made saber-like dinner knives illegal. He had them replaced with knives featuring broader, blunter blades.

The fork was the last item to be added to the traditional culinary list. For a time, there was some opposition to it, because it was regarded as too “feminine” and mainly aimed at the upper crust.

The following are some of the foods we can “properly” eat here as finger foods:

Bite-sized desserts and desserts that aren’t messy; nuts from a bowl, provided they are scooped up with a spoon first; pickles,  pizza and artichokes; shrimp by the tail, when the tails are still on; toast and bread; hot sandwiches, assuming they aren’t served with dressing; hot dogs, French fries and corn on the cob; and small fruits or berries.

The good news is, if your favorite finger food isn’t on the list, the growing popularity of finger foods might soon land it there. Fried chicken has made some finger lists, so barbecued ribs might yet make it as well.

Benefits of finger eating are several. They include improved digestion.

When one touches food with the fingertips, it immediately alerts the body to start preparing for the task. And this alert releases digestive juices.

Researchers say that because finger eating is deliberate and slow. we tend not to over-stuff as much and feel satisfied sooner. It discourages binge eating, they said.

And how good those finger foods taste!

Even the movement of the fingers is said to be beneficial to the flow of blood as a result of finger eating. That exercise, little though it may be, is appreciated by the body.

Give finger eating a try and you may end up joining the throng.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at



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