I ate everything with my hands for a week
The summer holidays means one thing for students – three months of uninterrupted socialising and eating all the food in the fridge.
To appreciate food, and cutlery, more though, I decided to challenge myself to spend a whole week eating everything with just my hands. So for seven days I took an oath: I, Alice Cachia, 20 years old from Kent, would not use any form of cutlery to eat my meals with. I now share with you my sacred experiences.
I started the week optimistic, ready to embrace my inner cavewoman. I chose my usual cereal breakfast, but my mother was disgusted and refused to let me eat inside my house, forcing me to slurp and mush my way through fruit and fibre in the garden.
It was messy and cold but it was fun. I adopted what I came to name the grab-and-crunch technique, like a claw in an arcade game. I was a predator, and the cereal was my prey. I would pounce and clutch the food and before it could tear away from me, cram it into my mouth.
The milk was tricky. Never one to cheat my way through a challenge, I refused to let myself drink it out of the bowl, so I adopted a cupping technique and made my hand into a spoon. I spilt milk everywhere in the process, but at least I tried.
I was fine at lunch with my egg sandwich, and really shone when I got a takeaway for dinner with friends (although they did force me to wear an apron). As they were struggling to use their chopsticks I was wolfing my way through the crispy chilli beef with ease. I got around the heat by using a prawn cracker as a serving dish – genius.
My pre-gym breakfast was a yoghurt which was trickier to eat than I expected. I had to channel Winnie the Pooh and scoop the yoghurt into my mouth like was honey. I wasn’t evicted to the garden but I did have to eat it over the sink.
After another easy sandwich lunch I went to my boyfriends for dinner. He’d purposefully chosen food easier to eat with my hands – tortillas, chicken, wedges, salad – true love at its finest.
After my easy start to the day, wolfing down toast in bed, I wanted a challenge for dinner — so I pulled out the big guns and had soup. In a scene reminiscent of Matilda, I was forced to eat alone in the dining room, banished by my family and wishing I had Miss Honey to help me. I was forced to slurp as much juice as possible from the bowl, before scooping out the vegetable and chicken chunks and eating them — yum.
It was, however, exceptionally hot, so I had to wear a latex glove to allow an extra layer between my skin and the broth.
Stuck eating cereal outside again, I started to feel increasingly isolated and lonely. It wasn’t the best way to start my day.
Things improved at dinner though, when I was allowed to eat my pasta and tomato sauce at the table with my family. The joy was short lived when they spent the whole meal telling me what a ridiculous challenge this was.
Ignoring them, I focused on my ravioli, which was a perfect shape to pick up with my fingers, but I did need my own cloth to mop up with with after every few mouthfuls.
I was fed up with the challenge by now. I felt left out and hated having to scrub my nails after every meal. I had strawberries for breakfast because I knew I could eat them one by one without being shunned.
For lunch I had McDonald’s, an easy option, but amped it up for a dinner out for a three course meal — in public. I settled with a mushroom starter, easy enough to pick up and bite into, though I did get some disapproving looks. One woman even covered her child’s eyes.
For main I had to go for sea bass — the carbonara looked tempting but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat a bowl of pasta again in public. The mashed potato was circular which meant I could easily scoop a chunk off and allow the wine sauce to soak into it. I tried at one point to pull the skin of the fish off, but I ended up spilling the sauce down myself and nearly knocking over my glass of wine.
Pudding was apple crumble and ice cream. The waiter gave me the filthiest look as I spilled the ice cream down my chin and onto my fancy dress, but I stopped caring. As the meal progressed I realised as long as I acted as sassy as Beyoncé I was unstoppable.
By now I felt like I was on a really rubbish detox, and grumbled through half a day with toast and sandwiches.
By dinner (mackerel and rice) I was fed up. It’s hard only having the palm of your hand as space — I ended up eating the fish as if it was an ice lolly and chomping it down in three gulps.
For my final day I went back to cereal for old times’ sake. The struggle was real, but I’d learned to put not as much milk in and to leave it to “soak” before eating it, letting the cereal absorb the milk. Realising how pathetic and ridiculous this technique was, I knew it was time to get back to normality.
At lunch I slurped a milkshake, longing for the cool metal of a fork in my hand to dunk into a pot noodle. Dinner was pie and chips from a fish and chip shop. This was fantastic for me, because I could scoop out the pie filling and then place the chips inside it and pop the lid back on. I even created a new recipe: a chip pie. It was glorious and I became delirious with the power I felt I had gained in my search for a purpose to this challenge.
I’ve never been more thankful for the end of a week in my life — although it was fun, never have I been so excited to use real life cutlery again.