Allan Bay and the praise of eating with your hands: interview – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Food journalist, historian, writer, Allan Bay he has just put down on paper in a book what many (if not all) think, but which we often don’t have the courage to say. At least not in public (so, let alone doing!). She remembered that eat with your hands it is one of the great pleasures of life, and how and why we should do it whenever we can, except for rare exceptions that make it impossible to use the thumb and forefinger to touch food, smell it and bring it to the mouth.

Is titled Praise of eating with your hands (The Assayer): clear from the title, it is a cultured and entertaining historical and anthropological journey that clears this very satisfying gesture that over the centuries social conventions have made appear “exotic”. Indeed – let’s say it – in certain circumstances a little rude.

As you will discover by reading it, until recently, forks didn’t even exist: they arrived on the tables of the European bourgeoisie only in the 19th century, after being invented in China. Then etiquette began to dictate the rules, limiting them to one There is a very narrow circle of foods that can be eaten without cutlery. This too is an entirely Western affair, considering that there is half the world – with many Asian and African countries leading the way – that often willingly do without cutlery. Allan Bay also tells this story and, to move from theory to practice, he gradually suggests tasty dishes recipes from «conlemanisti. Or rather, as he explains in this interview, “indications”, which certainly make reading his first “personal” book even more pleasant.

Interview with Allan Bay

Why is it a “personal” book?
«It concerns a passion of mine that few of my friends, the real ones, know about: eating with your hands, in fact. I have written many books, especially recipe books, which as such had a basic objectivity. This book is different precisely because it talks about me.”

What makes eating with your hands so enjoyable?
«As children we discover the world – and therefore also food – first of all through touch and smell, and this physical contact with what we eat remains the greatest enjoyment. But over time we tend to deprive ourselves of it because as we grow up we are taught that we have to use cutlery: we lock ourselves into patterns. The purpose of the book is to get out of these patterns and clear, when possible, this great pleasure of eating with your hands.”

How many would like to do it but don’t have the courage to do it or even just say it?
“I do not know. However, I know for a fact that several of my friends love to eat with their hands and that many use cutlery even in cases where there is no need. I think, for example, of those who eat pizza with a fork and knife and of the astonished looks of the pizza chefs while they do so. And then in Naples even spaghetti was once eaten with the hands: remember Totò?

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