The Finger Food way: recipes, ideas, tips

Mini portions but maxi taste! Socializing, eating… and the cutlery isn’t even out of the drawer! The trend is toward informal get-togethers. More and more people opt not for sitting round a table but aperitif parties, and buffet dinners or receptions, on their feet.
Finger food means small portions that you don’t even need a knife and fork for. Just your fingers. But finger food also means something of a ‘lifestyle statement’ − a change in the way we consume and share our foods (dynamic, generally on our feet, with no first or second courses and so on; no cutlery and no dining table laying).

Mini sandwiches, savoury puff pastries, fishcakes, land- and seafood, vegetables and mini-canapés are classic ‘finger fare’ (but endless variations on this theme instantly come to mind!).

Not everything you eat with your hands is finger food

For example, pizzas. Pizzas aren’t finger food, nor are French fries or the peanuts in a bowl that you often find in bars!

Finger food means more than a single mouthful or thereabouts. Finger food requires presentation. Finger food must be “pleasing to the eye”.
Presentation is hugely important. Finger foods appeal to all our senses. Sight, as we arrive, and then touch, and then taste. Finger foods are generally very photogenic. We feed, and feed our eyes, on food. Just think, for example, of all our social network exchanges!

‘Miniature’ − a key word evoking refined taste

Alongside very simple recipes, an air of sophistication is increasingly to be noted at social gatherings, reflected in the search for contrasts between, for example, sweet and savory, cold and hot, and soft and crisp, with an eye on ingredients and color combinations. The rules of the game are anything but lax. Finger foods must be unforgettable. This is why we see more and more chefs venture (albeit, perhaps cautiously) into this field of creativeness. Not tiptoeing in, but looking to their own fingertips, so to speak! We find finger foods in various venues with happy hours, and at buffets for receptions, private parties and corporate gatherings, and even in lieu of wedding banquets.

A glassful of surprises

Vol-au-vent, browned croquettes, oven baked vegetable chips and savory treats are all excellent finger foods. Remember also that finger foods aren’t necessarily fried (i.e. not necessarily foods that are both delicious and fried). There’s more to finger foods than just fried!

Finger foods can include fresh tzatziki, pumpkin velouté or salmon tartare, as well as a vast range of soft desserts! How? Good question! Micro-containers in the form of a spoon and, above all, transparent single-portion glasses, providing a stylishly devised solution to the problem of serving specialities with a softish consistency (e.g. vegetarian mousses or seafood cous cous dishes, diced fruit and cheesecake). With such treats as these, the rules permit the use of disposable items such as toothpicks, teaspoons or forks.
A trendsetting trend, so to speak, is the use of “multi-layer” glasses or “disheveled” recipes in which the ingredients are separate and not mixed in with each other, making for fascinatingly layered colour scheme: a cream or sauce below, the main ingredient in the middle, and another ingredient on top (as a topping designed to attract our attention).

New meets traditional

Finger foods have come to the fore only over the last few years. But the tradition of small snacks for eating with your hands has always been around in Italy. Examples are the flavorsome small cichéti snacks to be found in Venice’s bàcari or taverns (baccalà mantecato (creamed stockfish) on toasted bread is just one of such treats). Italians have always also loved ‘bruschette’ (toasted bread, with fresh tomato, salt, basil and olive oil), canapés with truffle and arancini (rice croquettes) that you will only find in the more traditional taverns in Rome, Tuscany and Sicily. But let’s not forget such close cousins as Spanish tapas and Basque pinchos.

Have you ever made finger food? Check out our own recipes, such as Rolled puff pastry with pesto sauce and Vol-au-vent with shrimps.