A Manhattan art gallery has affirmed what our inner kids always knew: food is more fun when you’re using your fingers.

Hotel Particulier created a participatory dinner experience that had its diners catching rice balls and painting with vegetables, reports the Wall Street Journal. For $350 a pop, you could have been part of the dining elite.

The dinner, called “Traces,” is the pet project of food stylist and artist Emilie Baltz.

“She wanted guests to experience the simple pleasures of eating with their hands, playing with their food, and losing inhibitions as they tried something different and new,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

Diners relaxed around a circular wooden table designed by Brooklyn artist Courtney Smith, with some volunteering to be human backrests for others.

Food came courtesy of Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pamela Yung, of Brooklyn’s Chez Jose. The table had a designated “runway” for the chefs, walking its length to deliver food. At the end of the night, they even signed diners’ aprons the way a rockstar would after a stadium show.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Beets that had been sliced into ribbons were unspooled and placed in front of diners as part of a deconstructed salad that also included scattered leaves of radiccio and slices of orange. Guests played with the beet ribbons as they ate, used hunks of bread baked with black garlic to soak up sauces, and ‘painted’ with florettes of brown-buttered cauliflower.”

Sounds like a good time to us. And it’s not the first time that artists and chefs have joined forces.

In 2009, a couple shot a video of Grant Achatz serving their dessert at Alinea.

The dessert, “chocolate mousse frozen with liquid nitrogen and a liquid-to-solid chocolate pudding,” is essentially splattered on the table in front of diners much in the way an artist paints. We could watch him do this all day.

More recently, New York’s Queen of the Night (“a dark debutante ball”) has reopened its doors. This is some Eyes Wide Shut-style shit. The interactive performance piece, held at the Diamond Horseshoe, invites its guests to dine at the risk that they may be whisked away by cast members at any moment.

Charles Isherwood, reviewer for the New York Times, writes of his experience:

“You could be hijacked during the dinner service and swept off to a small chamber and invited to engage in a game of striptease, as the handsome hedge fund guy sitting next to me was. (I expect the young, toned and beaming-with-extroversion are selected for this option.)”

The event combines food and pleasure in unexpected and risqué ways. The Queen of the Night is what happens when smoked BBQ and burlesque have a love child, basically.

Here’s the trailer, for your own viewing pleasure (or sensory overload).

If we staged our own event, it would be a crowd of our coworkers crawling around trying to eat truffle fries off the floor while we played the Nyan cat songOr something like that.

[via Wall Street Journal]