Finger Food

The benefits of cooking and eating with your hands

In a time of exciting culinary innovation and experimentation it feels like we can’t go more than  a week without some new exciting kitchen tool or contraption. Don’t get me wrong, I love experimenting and trying new things in the kitchen, I think that curiosity is one of the key things that should drive us in the kitchen, but every now and then I get stuck into a recipe that requires some hands on attention and I’m reminded how much I love getting my hands dirty, literally, while I’m cooking.

Kneading dough, hand rolling bite-size treats, knotting pastries, these are motions and tactile experiences that can have such a cathartic release for the soul, and remind me just how overlooked the sense of touch can be in the culinary world. I love thinking that cooking or eating a meal can be a fully immersive sensory experience, so surely, we shouldn’t forget about touch, so often an integral part of experiencing pleasure.

Sure, the idea of rolling up your sleeves and diving into some hand-prepared recipes doesn’t scream ‘convenient meals after a long day of work’, but when was the last time we took the time to experience every ingredient and mouthful? Our primal urges are still in place after millennia of evolution and we haven’t evolved past our need to feel and experience stimuli.

Even if you do go the automated, convenience route for food preparation, forgoing cutlery and eating with your hands can have several benefits, sensory stimulation included. Popular in many parts of the world, tucking in with your hands can have unexpected benefits.

The nerve endings on our fingertips can physically stimulate digestion, lighting up our brains and signaling to our stomachs that we’re about to eat, meaning you’ll have a heightened experience of taste, textures, and smell.

And while washing your hands before preparing or eating food is an obvious must, our hands are coated by a natural bacterium, dubbed finger flora, which when ingested can protect us from harmful microbes in the environment. We’re not making this up.

Another win for eating with your hands, when you ditch the cutlery, you’re likely to wind up eating slower, which not only means you get to taste and experience your food more, but it’s also a natural means to manage your portion control because you’re likely to feel fuller faster and to see how much you’re indulging.

So, isn’t it time we satisfied our primal urges by allowing ourselves to truly feel what we’re putting in our bodies? When all is said and done, we shouldn’t lose touch with touch.