I love to cook and I love to eat. I love all types of food, too. I am not a discriminatory eater and I don’t believe that Coq au vin is necessarily superior to a Taco Bell Crunchwrap supreme.
Although, I have noticed that a lot of people don’t know how to eat correctly. Let me rephrase that: I’ve noticed that a lot of people assume a much more pretentious outlook to eating than necessary. I’m a people watcher and I have observed that some folks feel the need to use their fork and knife in culinary situations that do not require a fork and knife.
Some things were made to be eaten with your fingers. Utensils simply complicate the process.
Take pizza, for example. Pizza never requires a fork and knife, unless of course you’re attempting to eat the pizza as soon as you remove it from the oven. During this “cooling-off” stage the cheese possesses the consistency and temperature of napalm and will scorch the skin right off the roof of your mouth. And don’t come at me with the “Well, what if the slice is too wide? Then I can use a fork, huh?” No. You cannot. Simply crease the bottom of the slice and eat it like a taco. Presto. Your tummy is full and your fork is clean.
Keeping tacos in mind, let’s move to my next complaint. Living in San Antonio I’ve eaten my fair share of Tex-Mex, and let me tell you that nothing singles out a tourist faster than when some poor slob futilely attempts to cut up a taco. Pick the damn thing up, fold up the opposite end, and devour that buen alimento. (Just to clarify: a taco is some sort of filling–picadillo, barbacoa, carne guisada– wrapped up inside a soft tortilla. You must specify types of tacos beyond that: crispy, puffy, etc.) Do not use a fork to eat: chalupas, nachos, fajitas, empanadas”¦the list goes on and on. You do, however, need to use a fork to eat your rice and beans”¦alright, a rolled-up tortilla will work just fine too.
Okay, last one, and this one is just as Texaspecific as the Tex-Mex. Barbecue. Do NOT snob-up a barbecue dinner. Use your hands to eat brisket, ribs, chicken quarters, hell, even sausage. It is perfectly acceptable to eat any of these with your hands. We were at a social gathering recently and I watched a couple from Pittsburgh attempt with firm resolve to eat sliced brisket with nose-in-the-air affectation while using proper utensil etiquette. Now look, sure you can do it that way, but it’s totally unnecessary. Here’s how you eat sliced brisket: Hold a piece of white bread in your left hand and with your fingers place several pieces of brisket on the bread. Top with onions and pickles, fold the bread in half, and eat. A swig of beer at this point is optional but encouraged. What about sauce? Pour a generous pile on your plate and dip your sandwich to your heart’s content. You should treat sausage the same way as well as chicken. Here in Texas the only time you should pick up your fork is when you want a generous bite of baked beans, cream corn, or cole slaw.
And lest you think this little idiosyncrasy of mine derives from living in a state known for boorish manners, you should know that other cultures use their fingers as well. I bet you didn’t know that the Japanese consider sushi finger-food, did you? Yep, it’s true. Granted, with some Americanized maki and urmaki rolls you almost need a ladle to consume, such is the heap of add-ons our sushi chefs pile on. But it is perfectly acceptable to eat traditional rolls, sashimi, and even nigiri with your fingers.
So go forth and get messy.