If you want to forego a caviar spoon entirely, you may be interested to hear that there is a tradition of eating caviar off of the back of your hand.
So do you eat caviar off your hand? While this may seem like a distinctly unrefined way to eat caviar, eating caviar off your hand is actually a tradition associated with chefs who used to purchase caviar. This form of serving caviar began when chefs and connoisseurs used to test out caviar before purchasing it.
Using the back of your hand is similar to using an inert material for a caviar spoon, but it’s not necessarily because of your skin being inert, but rather due to how the human brain works.
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Why Eat Caviar Off the Back of Your Hand?
When you eat something with your hands, your brain automatically suppresses the flavor signal associated with what your skin tastes like. This means that you’ll only taste the food itself, ensuring that you can enjoy the delicate flavor of the caviar that you’re testing out without having to resort to an inert spoon.
Of course, to scoop the caviar onto the back of your hand in the first place, the caviar vendor would typically use an inert spoon of their own, but using the back of your hand ensures that you don’t have to put said spoon in your mouth. The flavor isn’t the only reason why you may wish to use the back of your hand when eating caviar, as the texture also plays a role.
When you eat caviar off of the back of your hand, you won’t have to worry about the texture being altered because you aren’t putting anything but the caviar in your mouth. Even specifically-made caviar spoons will introduce a new texture to your mouth and will conflict with the texture of the caviar.
How It All Started
When this custom got started, people used to eat caviar with the palm of their hands, but they eventually realized that the palm carries far more bacteria than the back of the hand.
To ensure that you don’t accidentally get sick and that the flavor isn’t affected by that bacteria, the back of the hand started being used.
More specifically, you’re expected to put a dollop of caviar on the part of the back of your hand in between your thumb and forefinger. You then bring your hand up to your mouth and eat the serving of caviar to get a sense of the flavor without having to rely on any utensils.
While this form of serving caviar originated with people buying and tasting different types of caviar, it is also seen as a legitimate way to serve it if you’re eating a tin of the delicacy. Of course, whether or not you eat caviar this way depends on your surroundings and the customs of the people that you’re eating with.
The Proper Way To Eat Caviar
If you’re having caviar at a fine dining restaurant with people who may not know about the tradition, you may get a few quizzical looks when you scoop some caviar onto your hand and eat it off of it. Of course, you can always take the time to share your wealth of caviar-based knowledge, but sometimes it’s a better idea to stick with the customary caviar spoon.
While many people may be inherently uncomfortable with eating something like caviar using their hands, there are a few arguments to be made for eating caviar like this. If it’s your first time trying a type of caviar, then you’ll never get a purer flavor than when you eat it off of the back of your hand.
Along with enhancing the flavor, having the caviar on the back of your hand will allow you to get a better idea of how it smells. This is because the caviar won’t be competing with the metallic scent of the can that it came in when it’s on the back of your hand. Much like a glass of fine champagne, smelling caviar before you eat it is an essential part of getting the full flavor.
Your caviar typically shouldn’t have much of a smell to it, as smelly caviar is typically of lower quality than the best of the best. Some caviar connoisseurs will go as far as refusing to eat caviar that has too strong of a smell to it, and they’re typically using their hands to get an idea of the scent.
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