The Sexual Politics of Finger Food

21 04 2012

Food and fingers. Finger food.

Been thinking about the deep philosophical connection lately.


I get bored easily. There was nothing on telly. Aw come on – nobody’s making you read this. Stop moaning! OK – stop whining, moaning’s actually totally OK.

Flickr: licking fingers

So regular readers will be aware of my recent trip South of the line. I met some new colleagues for the first time and much flavoured ethanol was imbibed whilst consuming less than healthy food. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. I consider it economic foreign aid, and I sleep guilt-free. Well – a bit.

We ate things with names like “rattlesnake balls”. Thankfully these turned out to be jalapeño flavoured finger food, and not actually anything to do with herpetology. Much conviviality, and good humour with various snake-related travel tales. The deep fried balls of flavour were shared amongst us most politely with the use of forks, and made no particular impression on me at the time. (I usually like to dip jalapeños in habanero sauce just for shits and giggles – sometimes literally). Last night though, I met up with some old friends from my previous company. Folk were in town from Australia, the UK and all over the shop. I ordered nachos for the table and everyone tucked in.

At this point however, I noticed the communal behaviour. I consider myself a Canadian now. Blue passport and everything. However, I was brought up in the UK for several decades and as well as being fond of using words like “whilst”, “petrol” and “lift”, I have a personal space issue. Also table manners. Whilst (see – just can’t help it!) the communal sharing of rattlesnake testicles via fork struck me as unremarkable, I was much more alert to how people were sharing the nachos, since fingers were directly involved.

I think there are some pretty universally accepted behaviours. No “double-dipping” (which prior to moving to Canada I always thought referred to some dodgy sexual activity), which for the still uninformed is actually no more than dipping a chip (fry) or a crisp (chip) into a sauce, biting off the end, then repeating with the same item – thus theoretically sharing your spittle, gonorrhoea or whatever with the assembled group. The fact that the fingers themselves might be unwashed since their recent meeting with an eyebrow, dirty door handle or itchy scrotum does not however seem to cause any concern at all.

An example of a finger cot

An example of a finger cot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So we’re not exactly consistent in what is and is not acceptable group eating behaviour. As well as taking from the group plate, there’s also the possibility that someone may place items on your plate or even directly in your mouth using fingers. Usually items they don’t like and know you do. From general members of the group this is definitely verboten, but from particularly close friends, lovers or relatives this goes without notice as merely not wasting good food (for a given value of “good”), or perhaps even a sensual act. I’m not convinced even these criteria would excuse it if the doner was not of whichever sex you’re into. I look forward to reading thoughts on the matter. Being offered grapes directly to ones mouth seems particularly erotic. But enough – this was a pub, and no unfermented grapes were on offer, alas.

And then there’s the sexual aspect. There’s always been something sexy in watching a woman licking or sucking fingers. Either her own or preferably yours. I’m convinced this is the whole rationale for finger food in the first place – just to give men an excuse to put sticky sauce on food and pretty much guarantee the women in the gathering will be forced to lick their fingers.

And Esquire is always good for a comment on finger sucking too. Click the picture for the vaguely entertaining article.

Esquire: Why women suck mens fingers




4 responses

21 04 2012
misfits' miscellany

The boy who lived in the glass bubble died when he stepped out.

21 04 2012
Quieter Elephant

But did he die with a smile on his face?

7 05 2012
Heather Whitley Gibson

I hope.

30 05 2016
DavID Payne

Food should only be fingered if it has given informed consent.

Speaking of eating off plates and British mindset, I loved the story i read somewhere of when Linda Ronstadt was living “in sin” as it was often still called with Jerry Brown during his first stint as Gov of California. So Linda was co-host(ess) of an official dinner for the Queen of Canada and 15 other nations, who was and is also permanent head of The Commonwealth Of Nations, currently comprising 53 sovereign states which cover 1/4 of the world’s land area and has an estimated population of 2.328 billion people.* I can imagine some stuffy officials must have almost popped a valve-spring when Linda went up to QE 2 in a friendly manner asking something like’ “what are you having, that looks good’ do you mind if I try some? and then immediately eating off Her Majesty’s plate! As you would know, even asking the Royals a direct question is a breach of protocol. (Although I suspect that most of that Royal Family hate much of the protocol that leads to them wasting so much of their life enduring boring ceremonies and trivial smalltalk etc.)

Perhaps that story isn’t true, but I did once see on US TV a large African-American woman suddenly giving her a warm hug. I suspect that if she’d done that to a POTUS she would have been shot before she got there. Even though they administer one nation of ~1/10th the population and 1/3rd the area, usually for no more than 8 years.

* Yes residents of the USA, this is the person most of you refer to as “The Queen of England”, which ISN’T one of her many titles!

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