This post originally appeared in the July 18, 2022 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s writers and editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
A plate of slightly over-salted calamari lands on the table, accompanied by marinara or perhaps some lemon aioli. You can’t wait to grab a piece. Then, your friend gingerly slides a couple of squid rings onto their fork and places them on their small plate. They spoon the condiment over into a shallow puddle, which slowly starts to soak into the breading, and the rest of the table follows. This is wrong. Finger foods should be eaten with your fingers, straight from the plate on which they were served.
Using utensils to eat foods that are already in discrete pieces betrays the spirit of app-sharing. It shifts the vibe. We’re all at a lovely meal together, and suddenly people are double-checking whether they airlifted the same number of plantain chips to their plate as their friend. To me, it’s giving elementary school lunch line, not adults at dinner.
Some foods just call for hand-use. Have you ever seen someone stick a fork in a potato wedge? It’s completely unnatural. Spinach borani tastes better when directly scooped from the bowl with a torn-off bit of barbari bread.
To be fair, I’m pretty blase about germs. In a pre-COVID world, I was the friend who finished your half-eaten lollipop or didn’t care who else drank from my water bottle. The number of co-workers who have proudly presented me with their janky leftovers, knowing I would eat them without question, is somewhere in the double digits.
But if you’re a separate-dish person, I implore you to at least test the waters. Experience the joy of not having to flag down a server for a small plate. Take a walk on the saucy side and dunk your spring roll straight into the soy sauce ramekin (trust me, it’s so much better than swirling it around on your shallow dish). See what it’s like to grab life — with your hands — by the squid ring.
Aditi Shrikant is a Brooklyn-based reporter. She reports on consumer trends.