If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again. And I'm not talking industrial accidents.

While we are still in the full throes of the Jubilee celebrations, this seems to be the perfect time to talk about finger food. Though, strictly speaking, I should be saying something like 'while the celebrations are still in progress'. Because the word 'throes' refers to a painful struggle and as far as I'm concerned the Jubilee is not painful at all. Except for the BBC coverage of the river pageant. Which was painful in the extreme.

Be that as it may! In the past we called them canapés, and they were bread based, but that word and the description, seems to be in decline. Nowadays, it's finger food that's served at parties and receptions when you prefer, for whatever reason, not to have a proper sit down meal. With 650 guests to accommodate, some of whom she probably never clapped eyes on before, it's no wonder her Majesty chose finger food for the main reception after that wedding last year. And wisely scarpered before the full sit down meal for the kiddies in the evening. I sincerely hope that after 60 years on the throne, she was absolved from any whisper of catering duties this weekend. After all that standing on Saturday she deserves a massive G & T with her feet up.

Finger food these days can be very posh indeed, with companies such as Nomad Food and Design, Urban Caprice and Rhubarb having elevated the genre to an art form. A far cry from the limp vol au vents, soggy sausage rolls, and everything on a stick of bygone days. While there may not have been a wisp of foam or reconstituted pea in sight, nevertheless the food served at the palace that Friday reflected the very best of British. Except for the puddings, which had a distinctly French air about them. French nomenclature, if not recipes, also crept in with the odd savoury chausson (a posh turnover). However, for the most part, it was all good British fare. All very lovely and appropriate. And all very modern.

Except that it's not. For there's nothing new about finger food. Our very remote ancestors, the ones who'd barely assumed an upright position, almost certainly ate with their fingers. 'Fingers were made before forks', as my mother used to say. Many cultures and peoples still eat with their hands, or to be more precise, their right hand. Eating with the left is considered very bad form indeed. From Africa to Asia to Oceania fingers replace knifes and forks and spoons, though of course there are exceptions. In Pakistan, fingers and cutlery are permitted. In the Philippines, a fork and spoon are used. In many of these cultures there's a precise etiquette about exactly how to eat - three fingers or four, which bit of the finger, whether or not to use your thumb. Rules that would not be out of place in the highest of high Western society. Never let it be said that we lead the world on manners.

Mind you, eating with your fingers is not necessarily the same as eating finger food. A greasy hunk of roasted camel doesn't compare to a dainty duck terrine or a delicate salmon rose. So when did this practical style of eating begin? And why? This is where the fun really starts - half the known world lays claim to it. Some say it was dim sum, invented by a canny vendor to refresh the merchants travelling along the Silk Road as long ago as 206 BC. Others point to the cold appetizers, known as bawarid, served in eighth century Baghdad. Then there's sushi and tapas and … the list goes on. Indeed the name canapé itself dates back to ancient Greece, where it began life as a mosquito net, or curtain. It mutated through the ages to the Middle English 'canope'. For some unknown reason we adopted the French word 'canapé' which actually means a sofa. Because they think a canapé looks like a sofa? Time for a trip to Specsavers.

A sandwich can be finger food too. We're not talking doorsteps here but a rather more delicate, two bite form often referred to as a tea sandwich. According to popular belief the sandwich was invented by our very own John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Unfortunately, and as is often the case, popular belief is wrong. One of the first references to something akin to a sandwich was in the 1st century BC. when the famous sage, Hillel the Elder, began the custom of putting chopped nuts, fruit and bitter herbs between two pieces of matzo to commemorate the Exodus. Down the ages food approximating to sandwiches appeared in various forms. So while the 4th Earl didn't invent the sandwich, it was certainly named after him. Reluctant to leave the gaming table, or as some now claim his work, he ordered his chefs to bring him salt beef between two slices of toasted bread. His companions cried out - in true 'When Harry met Sally' style - 'I'll have the same as Sandwich'.

Personally I like finger food. Maybe I've been blessed by invitations to receptions that are the 'works of art' variety rather than the 'two day old scotch egg' sort. Nevertheless, as far as I'm concerned, finger food is perfect for anything where you have to stand up and hold a glass. We've all been there, trying to juggle a bendy paper plate, with soggy salad sliding off the side and a tilting glass that threatens to drip claret (or plonk more likely) onto our shoes or someone's Sunday best. No, as far as I'm concerned it's fingers every time. And the more 'art form' the better, as long as it tastes good. But spare me the recent fad for 'bowl food'. Delicious it may be and flavour of the month, so to speak, but virtually impossible to eat without getting sticky or embarrassing yourself.

Note: I'm still not good at putting on the pictures and haven't time to do the links, but for these just click http://www.wordswithwings.co.uk/index.php/category/blog/ to get them in their full glory.

John Paul

johnpaul-94865

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

Sausage rolls are best eaten as pre-cooked and straight from the fridge, or at room temperature. If you try and heat them to create something fancy they do wilt. Pork pies are better at RT too - though that may be counter-intuitive? Very interesting blog, though this new term 'finger food' sounds a bit like man bites dog in the present world :)

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Georgina Lester

georginalester

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

Another excellent piece Clodagh. These articles you are creating are doing a great job of showing your professionalism and skill as a copywriter. I get the feeling that your talents could be put to good use for people wanting great copy. Please keep up the great work. I loved your Ice cream blog - this one is equally entertaining.

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Andreas Wiedow

andreas_wiedow

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

And then there's Pizza . . . 326+ BC. Originating from Pitta, brought to Italy via Turkey and Greece (Pita) through a famous Macedonian. Outstanding art of writing in my book, thank you, Clodagh. So refreshing.

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Mike Turner

miketurner

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

Clodagh I agree with Angus. A really well written piece and deserving of an article. If you need advice on how to insert images and links into an Ecademy post drop me a line. Your blog images would look great here. Mike

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Angus Whitton

anguswhitton-88567

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

@after 60 years on the throne She's obviously eating the wrong sort of food! :-) On a more serious note - it's a brilliant blog Clodagh and should really have been under articles to get its full potential realised. Choose the category for your post: Articles (Long essays), Business (business related), Social (non-business related), Community (Ecademy related topics), Ecademy Events (Ecademy Networking Club Events) Angus

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Carolyn Williams

carolynwilliams-253741

If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again.

@I sincerely hope that after 60 years on the throne, she was absolved from any whisper of catering duties this weekend. After all that standing on Saturday she deserves a massive G & T with her feet up. I can 'feel' the Smile on her face. Great writing style Clodaugh. Thank You C:)x

1 comments