finger foods

This morning’s Pinterest mail offered an album of finger food images: gorgeous stuff. Then I discovered  that I’d mentioned finger foods in passing several times (in connection with appetizers and snacks), and once a bit more seriously, but hadn’t discussed them in any detail. Time to remedy that.

From 5/11/10, in “Sandwich”, where I wrote about

the larger family of foodstuffs composed of a cooked starchy container (some wrapping may be required) for a vegetable, fruit, cheese, and/or meat filler: burritos, enchiladas, crêpes, Chinese dumplings, moo shu X in pancakes, blintzes, samosas, pakoras, schwarmas, gyros, and so on, endlessly. Many of these are, like sandwiches, finger foods, and some make good street foods because they are easily portable and can be eaten with one hand.

And note the appetizers and snacks in my recent posting “Pop food edifice”.

Before I go on, a few photos. First, a stock photo of a display:


And then from the excellent Really Amazing Women site on “39 Easy-to-Make Finger Foods”, just one shot, of ricotta crostini:


(There are many other equally gorgeous offerings.)

On to the Wikipedia article, which has useful content but is somewhat confused about a central conceptual issue, the distinction between a literal sense of finger food ‘food eaten using the hands’ and. finger food ‘item belonging to the cultural category FINGER-FOOD’, within (roughly) western culture, where certain foods are, in certain circumstances, conventionally eaten with the hands (and so the fingers):

Finger food is food meant to be eaten directly using the hands, in contrast to food eaten with a knife and fork, spoon, chopsticks, or other utensils. In some cultures, food is almost always eaten with the hands; for example, Ethiopian cuisine is eaten by rolling various dishes up in injera bread. In the South Asian subcontinent, food is traditionally always eaten with hands. Foods considered street foods are frequently, though not exclusively, finger foods.

In the western world, finger foods are often either appetizers (hors d’oeuvres) or entree/main course items. In the Western world, examples of generally accepted finger food are miniature meat pies, sausage rolls, sausages on sticks, cheese and olives on sticks, chicken drumsticks or wings, spring rolls, miniature quiches, samosas, sandwiches, [merienda and similar foods], such as pitas or items in buns, bhajjis, potato wedges, vol au vents, several other such small items and risotto balls (arancini). Other well-known foods that are generally eaten with the hands include burger, pizza, hot dogs, fruit and bread [sliders — small burgers — cocktail franks, and cocktail pizzas are certainly in the FINGER-FOOD category, but it’s not clear to me that the full-size items are, and fruit and bread are not]. Dessert items such as cookies, pastries, ice cream in cones, or ice pops are often eaten with the hands but are not, in common parlance, considered finger foods. [That is, items in the SWEETS (vs. SAVORY) category, whether desserts, snacks, or candy, are not FINGER-FOOD, though many are eaten with the hands.] In East Asia, foods like pancakes or flatbreads … and street foods such as chuan [small pieces of meat roasted on skewers] … are often eaten with the hands [but that doesn’t necessarily put them in the western FINGER-FOOD category].

On merienda:

Merienda is a light meal in Southern Europe, particularly Spain, Portugal (lanche), Italy (merenda), Slovenia and Croatia (marenda), as well as Hispanic America and the Philippines. Usually taken in the afternoon or for brunch, it fills in the meal gap between the noontime meal and the evening meal, being the equivalent of afternoon tea; or between breakfast and lunch. It is a simple meal that often consists of a piece of fruit, cookies, yogurt, and other snacks paired with juice, hot chocolate, coffee, spirits, or other beverages.

One Response to “finger foods”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    It’s probably not technically finger-food either, but I’m surprised that the list of “[o]ther well-known foods that are generally eaten with the hands” doesn’t include corn on the cob.

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