If you’re a newbie in China, one of the first challenges you may face is eating with chopsticks. I know it can be struggled, and for these guys, it’s a disaster.
Whether you know how to use chopsticks well or not, they have become common utensils within Asian culture and in eateries across the globe. They can be used to eat an entire meal, or just portions of the meal.
The history of chopsticks in Asia is older than many countries - they’re thought to be over 5000 years old. Originating from China, they began to spread to Japan and Korea by 500 A.D. In ancient times, chopsticks were made from trees or bamboo. Initially, they were utilized as sticks to retrieve food cooked in a pot or from the fire. Because of fuel shortages, food was cut into very small portions before it was cooked, eliminating the need for knives when it actually came to eating the food. Consequently, chopsticks became the utensils of choice.
It is said that chopsticks were considered an extension of fingers, but not afraid of extreme cold or heat. They are mostly made of unfinished wood and have a rectangular shape with a blunt end. Chinese chopsticks are longer and thicker than Korean and Japanese models. The extra length in Chinese chopsticks is because the food is usually served on a spinning platform called a “lazy Susan” in the middle of the table, so the chopsticks are longer to make it easier to reach the food. Also, Chinese chopsticks do not narrow towards the end as much as Japanese and Korean chopsticks do.
Here are a few tips on how to use chopsticks in the correct way.
1, Pick up the first chopstick and place it between your middle finger and the base of your thumb.
2, Grip the second chopstick with your index finger and thumb. To get them even, you can tap them on the table. Unevenchopsticks will be very difficult to use
3, Practice opening and closing the chopsticks. Make sure the broad ends of the chopsticks do not make an"X" as this will make it difficult to pick up food.
4, Start picking up food! Working from an a45° angle may be easiest right now. Once you have it steady, lift 'em up. If the food feels unstable, put it down and try again.
Once you get good at one type of food, move onto different sizes and textures. When you start feeling really confident, practice with noodles! Sometimes even Chinese people can’t use chopsticks at the correct’ angle so you don’t have to stick with the same pose, just use it in a way that works and you feel comfortable with.
As chopsticks are so important at a Chinese dinner table, you may inadvertently show disrespect to others while you're eating if chopsticks are used in a certain way. Here are some basic rules to follow when you are dining with Chinese people or in a Chinese restaurant.
Don't stick your chopsticks upright in your food. It's seen as a bad omen and is reminiscent of incense at funerals.Don't spear your food with the ends of your chopsticks. If all else fails, it may seem like a good alternative, but its viewed as impolite.
Don't cross your chopsticks. If you're done eating, lay them to the side of your dish.
Don't point at people with your chopsticks. Pointing, in general, is a no-no in Asian cultures and same goes with chopsticks.
Don’t drum with your chopsticks, you’re not12.
Don’t dig around for the exact piece of food you want (signifies digging a grave).
Remember this: If you are not actively using the chopsticks to eat from your bowl or plate, then place them next to your plate or bowl. If chopstick rests are provided, then use the rests. In Chinese dining, you also can place the chopsticks flat, not crossed, on the rim of your bowl or plate to signify that you are resting.
For those on the edge of giving up, I highly recommend Auxiliary chopsticks. You can pick up basically everything you want.