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8 More Foods That Are (Almost) Too Difficult to Eat

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Complicated foods

Complicated foods

Food Fights

I adore food. I swoon over carbs, I fantasize about a Heaven filled with cheese; I have a not-so-secret love affair with chocolate.

I don’t want a messy, ugly battle when I eat, but there are some foods that are more trouble than a preschool full of three-year-olds. One year ago I wrote about the challenges of eating spaghetti, oysters, artichokes, hard-shell tacos, shellfish, mangos, and escargot.

That article prompted questions about even more foods, and so I present today how to deal with slippery sushi, pesky pomegranates, cantankerous chicken on the bone—more foods that are nearly impossible to eat. Here’s how to win the battle of the food and the fork.

Whole pomegranate and seeds

Whole pomegranate and seeds

1. Pomegranate

At first glance, the pomegranate fruit doesn’t look very promising. It’s oddly shaped, dull in color, and what the heck do you do with it? Unlike an apple, an orange, or most other fruits, there is no luscious flesh lurking beneath the peel; in the pomegranate, the choice bits are the seeds, the part of all other fruits that are thrown away. Here’s how to prevail over the pomegranate.

How to Extract Pomegranate Seeds

  1. Slice off the top (about 1/2-inch to an inch) to expose the red seeds.
  2. Cut the rind (from top to bottom) between each segment of seeds (there should be six).
  3. Pull the fruit apart, breaking it up into individual sections. As you do this, the seeds will begin to fall out; I find it best to work over a bowl filled with water.
  4. Remove the white membrane that covers each section (it’s a little like the skin that covers the sections in citrus fruit).
  5. Rub each section to remove the seeds—they should pop right off.

Some people prefer to smack the pomegranate to dislodge the seeds—the following video will show you how.

A selection of sushi

A selection of sushi

2. Sushi

Eating sushi is more than consuming a meal. The creation of sushi is an art form, and eating it without following these few simple rules is a show of disrespect to the Itamae (front of board, in other words, the master sushi chef).

Sushi Dos and Don'ts

  • Never use a knife and fork. If you cannot manipulate chopsticks, it is perfectly acceptable to use your fingers.
  • Don’t spear your sushi with a single chopstick.
  • Don’t mix the wasabi paste and soy sauce.
  • Do use the pickled ginger as a palate cleanser.
  • Don’t soak the rice in the soy sauce—the soy is for the fish.
  • Don’t cut the sushi into pieces. If the piece presented to you is too large, politely request that the chef adjust the proportions for you.
Plate of crispy fried chicken

Plate of crispy fried chicken

3. Chicken on the Bone

If you are eating chicken alone (even the kids aren’t there to watch), do whatever you want—no holds barred. However, assuming that you are consuming real bone-in chicken (not boneless wings or tenders), please keep these rules of etiquette in mind.

How to (Politely) Eat Chicken on the Bone

  • First, I can’t envision an upscale, fine-dining restaurant offering fried chicken, or any form of poultry “on the bone.” It just doesn’t happen.
  • Crunchy fried chicken is casual finger food. Go ahead and pick it up, but please don’t suck every bit off the bones (a la vulture), and for the love of goodness don’t lick your fingers.
  • If eating grilled chicken, use a fork and knife to carve it off the bone. You can do this—you’re a grown-up. Unless you live in the state of Georgia.

According to a Gainesville, Georgia, ordinance passed on January 15, 1961, it is illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork.

Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob

4. Corn on the Cob

Like fried chicken, this is definitely a finger food. No one expects that you will carve the kernels from the cob. One unit of corn is called an “ear,” but that doesn’t give you license to eat it and end up with an ear-to-ear (your hearing organs) grin of butter on your face.

How to Eat Corn on the Cob

  1. Butter just a few rows at a time.
  2. Eat your corn from left to right (or right to left) typewriter-style.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

Yes, you will end up with corn stuck in your teeth. Don’t perform the extraction in public. Excuse yourself to the restroom (or somewhere in private).

Ice cream cone in danger of collapse

Ice cream cone in danger of collapse

5. Ice Cream Cone

The ice cream cone—like Princess Elsa in Frozen—is icy and beautiful but dangerous if not handled properly. To fully explain how to approach this arctic edible, I give you the words of Judith Martin, an American journalist, author, and etiquette authority, also known as Miss Manners.

Miss Manners on How to Eat an Ice Cream Cone

Dear Miss Manners – Is it proper to lick food or liquid from around your mouth area or should you use your napkin instead?

An ice cream cone, of course, is impossible to eat without getting it all over your mouth. Nobody wants to waste the ice cream by wiping it away with a napkin. Are only certain foods OK to lick up with your tongue?

Gentle Reader – What do you mean by saying an ice cream cone is impossible to eat without getting it all over your mouth? Miss Manners is shocked.

Do not—repeat not—push the cone top-first into your face. The tongue gets plenty of exercise, but on the ice cream, not on your face.

When the cone is presented, the tongue should circle the rim to catch any overlap. It is then employed to lick the ice cream in swirls until the remainder sinks into the cone (perhaps aided by a surreptitious push by the tongue when Miss Manners isn’t looking), at which time it can be eaten in bites with the cone.

When you have mastered this, perhaps we can move on to barbecued spareribs.

Rack of yummy, savory, sticky ribs

Rack of yummy, savory, sticky ribs

6. Barbecued Ribs

I’m not a barbecue-sauce-lovin’ girl, so this hasn’t been an issue for me, but I know people who like a little bit of meat with their barbecue sauce, if you know what I mean. When they tackle a rack of ribs, there’s red sauce from ear to ear and fingertips to elbows. Surely, there must be a better way, right?

You could use a knife and fork, but honestly, once you’ve done that, all you have left is a pile of shredded pork and sauce. If that’s what you wanted, you might as well order pulled pork. It’s cheaper. Here’s a website that offers some "handy" (pun intended) tips.

Cupcakes with "mile-high" frosting

Cupcakes with "mile-high" frosting

7. Cupcakes

Once upon a time, a cupcake was a miniature cake with a gentle smear of frosting on top. That smear has evolved and grown and morphed into an unwieldy beast of massive proportions. It's not uncommon to see almost "mile-high" frosting, equal in proportion to the cake it adorns.

If we can't stop the madness, let's at least come up with a solution of how to eat these behemoths without getting frosting in our hair, our ears, and up our nasal passages.

Cupcake eating guide

Cupcake eating guide

Can you share a plate of nachos and still be friends?

Can you share a plate of nachos and still be friends?

8. Nachos

There is no question that nachos are finger food, but the typical portion is meant to be shareable—something that everyone at the table can dig into. So the question is not how to eat nachos, but how to eat them and not be hated by everyone. Here are a few simple rules of common nacho etiquette.

Nacho Etiquette

  • Stick to your side of the plate.
  • Don’t grab the chip that will pull off 50 percent of the toppings.
  • Use an unadorned chip from the edge to scoop up a “small” amount of the toppings.
  • No double-dipping.
  • Don’t lick your fingers.

© 2020 Linda Lum