Finger food! We're talking up food you can eat with your hands

Got a family that's hands-on when it comes to enjoying their food? Ditch your utensils and take a tour around the world with us!

Here’s a question for your kids: ask them if they prefer eating dinner with utensils or with their hands.

If you use a fork to eat most of your food, you’re using pretty new-fangled technology—forks are only about 300 years old! If you use chopsticks, you’re participating in an older tradition dating back about two millennia. But in many families and food traditions, food is best enjoyed neatly with one or two hands. In fact, in many cultures around the world, it’s good manners to eat only with your right hand, not your left—and of course, everyone agrees that you start with clean hands. Today, we’re looking at old and new ways to enjoy a meal together, utensil-free!

Tapas are a delicious Spanish tradition of a series of snacks or small plates of food served to keep you going between meals—but they also make a fantastic snack-y meal when you’re feeling creative at home! To get ideas about what the experience of tapas is like, try this read from Dinner A Love Story’s Jenny Rosenstrach and then get started with these easy tapas recipes.

Meze or mezze are small dishes served as appetizers that are common in Turkey, the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus and all areas of the former Ottoman empire. The word comes from the Persian word مزه (“mazze”), meaning snack. Mezze dishes include hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush, falafel and fried halloumi, served with lots of pita.

Wat are various Ethiopian stews and curries served on injera, a soft bread made of teff that does double duty as plate and serving device. Here’s a sweet read by a non-Ethiopian family about their experience sampling wat—and now that we’ve made you hungry, it’s time to get cooking. Try making your own injera (here’s a version with club soda to try if you don’t want to plan a day ahead), and top it with chickpea-based buticha or yekik alicha (yellow split peas in turmeric sauce)

Every culture has finger foods to enjoy. While it might not be news to you that you can eat pizza with your hands, did you know that in the Italian city of Napoli, spaghetti has a history as a street-based finger food? Nigiri-sushi is, of course, finger food in Japan, and tacos are definitely made for enjoying with your hands (just don’t forget to turn your head, not the taco, as you take a bite!)  Dhal is another perfect comfort food that is traditionally enjoyed by hand.

If all of this has your kids clamouring for more food that they can put together by hand, don’t miss our post 6 Meals For Lego Lovers, featuring food with some assembly required. And if you’re curious to find out more about the potential future of our utensils, we loved this read about the design history of the fork, and what we might be eating with a hundred years from now. (You can also check out our ideas for the future of food—maybe those mezze dishes you enjoy tonight are about to become a new family tradition!) For more articles and recipe ideas, head to our Facebook and Instagram feeds.

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