10 foods made to eat with your hands

Eat and let eat is our philosophy, but we’d be lying if we said we don’t wince a little when a poor triple-patty burger is subjected to a knife and fork. We wouldn’t exactly go as far as calling it a sin, but sometimes utensils definitely take away from the sensory experience of eating – and yes, that includes the taste. So, without further ado, we present our argument for why these 10 foods should be eaten sans utensils (plus some tips on how to do just that), and where to find some great versions.

Burger-lovers know that it’s all about the grip. They know instinctively that thumbs and pinky fingers grip the bottom of the bun while the rest of the fingers hold the top of the bun to keep the toppings from spilling out. (And even bigger burger-lovers have their own special techniques practically trademarked!) Practise your burger grip on the biggest and best burgers at spots like Burger Bistro, Franky’s Diner and Hudson’s Burger Joint.


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Curry dishes
Not only is it common practice to eat Indian food with your hands, but it’s also the best way, allowing you to enjoy the combination of different flavours to the fullest. Just remember to wash your hands thoroughly and eat only with your right hand (using your thumb and first two fingers to pick up and push food into your mouth), as eating with the left hand is considered disrespectful in Indian culture. The Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box Hotel offers a buffet of delicious traditional KZN curries served with rotis and naan breads from their unique tandoori ovens. Also try Prashad Cafe for pure vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and The Indian Chapter for even more delicious Indian meals.


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This legendary giant roll is difficult to bite into, especially since you’re likely to have some fillings spilling out. But eating it any other way takes away from the whole experience. Up for the challenge? Pop into Mariam’s Kitchen, The Golden Dish or Aneesa’s Take Aways for this local favourite (and remember to gather some friends to share it with!).


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Injera and wat
Eating using your hands is the norm in Ethiopia, so it’s obvious that that’s the best way to enjoy traditional cuisine. Just make sure you only use your right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean in Ethiopian culture. Simply use your right hand to strip off a piece of injera (thin sourdough flatbread), wrap it around some wat (stews and sauces), and enjoy. Try Little Addis Café, Little Ethiopia and Timbuktu Cafe for authentic Ethiopian dining experiences.


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There’s no other way to eat this South African township classic but with your hands. It’s a street food, after all, made by cutting a loaf of white bread into quarters (hence the name), hollowing out a piece and filling it with different toppings. It even comes served inside a transparent plastic packet to make it easy to hold and bite into. Grab a kota at Kota Joe or at your nearest spaza shop.

Pap and vleis
Times have changed and so have the ways South Africans eat pap and vleis. But traditionally (and also the best way, if we’re being honest), most people use their hands to eat this local staple. There’s no better way to eat this than pinching off a small piece of pap, rolling it into a ball and dipping it into the gravy of the stew. Next time you visit Soweto, check out Chaf-Pozi or Sakhumzi Restaurant on popular Vilakazi Street to enjoy this authentic South African favourite. Mash Braai House in Fourways is also a great option.


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There are many different ways to eat pizza and, while we’re not denying the validity of anybody’s pizza-eating methods, we’re just saying that eating it with your hands is probably the best way. Sure, you’ll likely get tomato and cheese all over your fingers, but isn’t that the best part? (Stop in at Coalition and Bocca for some great pizzas.)

Neapolitan Pizza at Coalition. Photo Supplied.

As the presiding number one meal never to order on a date, ribs are just meant be eaten by hand. Try to attack it with a knife and fork and you’ll likely end up with a lap full of barbecue sauce (instead of all over your fingers, where it belongs). Enjoy an awesome selection of smoked or unsmoked pork, beef and lamb ribs at Capital Craft Beer Academy; red chilli house ribs from Little Havana; and barbecued pork ribs from Stanley Beer Yard

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It doesn’t matter whether the taco has a soft or hard shell, or how skilled you are at avoiding mess – you have to eat it with your hands. Whatever it’s stuffed with deserves to go directly into your mouth. Try Lucky Shaker‘s tacos served on soft flour tortilla or lettuce wraps, build your own taco at El Burro, or try tacos made on an African hardwood taco press at Baha Taco.


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Come on now, there’s absolutely no reason to eat a wrap with utensils. The name itself suggests that it’s secure enough to hold with your hands as you indulge. Try Greenside Cafe and Orchard on Long for healthy and delicious wraps.

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