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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.


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 is 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 if 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 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 video by a barbecue boss that shows how you can easily eat ribs without looking like the Joker.

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.

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 a 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


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2020:

MizB, yes I totally intended for this one to be funny (I'm glad it worked). Please don't ever take me too seriously. I don't eat corn on the cob, so I hesitated as I wrote those instructions, but I had it from the best of sources. Oh well. Life's too short to not have fun with our food, right?

As for sushi, unless you're picking it up at the 7-11 it shouldn't stink.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2020:

Dora, I'm a pomegranate wimp. Those little gems are pricey and I'd rather have someone else do the work.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2020:

Good morning Abby, and it's good to see you here again. I'm glad that you enjoyed this; it was a fun article to write. I hope you can find the other one as well.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 01, 2020:

Interesting! Instructions for eating the ice cream cone make me laugh, but I appreciate the lesson. I like buying the ready-to-eat pomegranate seeds from the grocery store, but for those who grown their own, they have their work cut out.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 30, 2020:

Linda, I couldn't help laughing my way through this article. I hope you meant it to be humorous. I take issue with the instruction for eating corn on the cob (she laughs). Take it from an old farm gal whose grandpa raised corn that eating it typewriter style is a first class way to butter your cheeks. My preferred way is to eat around the cob at either end then start a new row encircling the cob. You'll get less corn stuck in your teeth that way, too. You can switch up ends to make it more interesting. There you have it!

Ribs are strictly a finger food and getting your hands all red and gooey is part of the fun. My favorite barbecue restaurant puts a roll of paper towels on each table rather than paper napkins. I simply can't stand those Memphis dry ribs.

Somehow I can't see Miss Manners eating an ice cream cone. In the South, ya gotta lick and slurp or the ice cream will melt and run down into the hand holding the cone.

Sushi, ugh! I decided to swear off sushi. It tastes like the bottom of my aquarium smells when it's dirty. Besides, I can't eat enough to fill me up. It just doesn't stick to this Southern girl's ribs.

My home ec teacher taught us that fried chicken was a finger food.

I like your advice on the nachos.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 30, 2020:


I loved your food picks and suggestions. Especially, eating a cupcake by putting the frosting in the middle. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 30, 2020:

Flourish, I don't really care for cupcakes, so next time I end up with one, I'll just discretely pass it to you under the table. As for corn on the cob, I'm not much of a fan of that either (just I'm starting to sound like a little fuss budget, aren't I?).

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 29, 2020:

I’ll definitely take cupcakes and I usually don’t have a problem with the frosting. If people are minding their own business they won’t notice my mess because it’ll be gone in a jiffy, just a few bites. I have this handy kitchen tool to quickly take the corn off the cob so usually I boil it, zip it right off, add salt and butter and no mess whatsoever. Works so well that I freeze summer corn for the winter that way.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2020:

Hi Mary - Where I live pomegranates are a real delicacy. We get them only at Christmas time and they fetch a hefty price, about $5.00 each!

Mary Wickison from Brazil on September 29, 2020:

This was a fun post. I've never had sushi but everything else I wholeheartedly endorse! It has been ages since I've had nachos.

I never would have thought to do that with cupcakes, interesting.

Pomegranates I've always just opened it up in quarters and carefully eat it using my teeth.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 29, 2020:

Let's hope not, Sis! :-)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2020:

Shauna, like you, I grew up with the mantra "Linda, Linda, are you able; take your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stable." That always puzzled me a little because horses don't have elbows and don't eat in the kitchen, but the chant got the point across.

We have holders for our corn too (in fact, they look like little ears or corn--adorable).

I'm not a fan of cupcakes--actually, I'm not a fan of cake. I'd rather have a birthday pie (if I get a birthday anything).

Thanks for stopping by. (I wonder if this will go to that great niche site in the sky?)

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 29, 2020:

Hmmmm. We grew up having to display impeccable table manners, especially when eating out or at someone else's house. One no-no anywhere a meal is served, is elbows on the table or your non-eating arm draped across the table between you and your plate. To this day, I cringe when I see that. (Chopped judges do it quite often).

With regard to fried chicken, I'm sorry, but I lick my fingers and use a napkin later. For much the same reason you don't wipe ice cream off your face with a napkin. Tee hee.

Corn on the cob. I eat it plain with no butter, salt or pepper. If it's in season and fresh it's sweet and delicious all by itself. I do use cob skewers, tho, not my bare hands. However, I guess I eat it wrong. I don't do the typewriter thing. I start at one end, eat a vertical row all the way around then move on down the line. Don't know why... that's just the way I do it.

I've never been a fan of cupcakes because they're such a pain to eat. If I do eat one, I take off the paper, and eat it with a fork. If there's too much icing, I scrape it off and just eat the cake.

I'm happy to say Miss Manners would approve of the way I eat an ice cream cone.

Like you, I'm not a barbecue sauce loving girl, so I might eat ribs once every decade. Seriously!

This is a fun post, Sis. Love the fact that it's illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork in Gainesville.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2020:

Good morning Pamela. It's always good to hear from you. Just keep those wet-wipes handy and all will be fine.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 29, 2020:

I was told not to eat sushi by my doctor due to lupus medication, which was fine by me. I do like ribs with not too much sauce.

Eating these foods at home with a couple of napkins works for me when it comes to ears of corn and most any messy food. I like this interesting article, Linda.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2020:

Well Eric, I hadn't considered the trials of eating with a mustache (ugh, the thought gives me shivers). I don't think there is any harm in eating the pith around the pom seeds, but it isn't very pretty. Cooks like to scatter those ruby-colored seeds like jewels and the white would detract from the magic.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2020:

Bill, you never fail to make me laugh (perhaps that wasn't your intent).

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 29, 2020:

One thing I like about these foods is generally you get to put your elbows on the table to eat them.

That disgusting moment with after dinner brews where manly men sit around and pick their teethe.

Try some of these with a thick mustache!

Now I know what to do with cupcakes - thanks.

No cutting sushi - eh.

I wonder if that white stuff in Pomegranites is bad for you. I don't mind it and it makes it much easier if you don't mind getting a little.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 29, 2020:

I won't touch sushi, for obvious reasons (at least obvious to me). As for barbecued ribs, I think they are far too much work for the reward, and they are messy as hell. If I'm going to require a bath after eating, I better get something for the effort, you know? :)

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