Chopsticks are an important part of Asian food and culture. They have been in use for over 4,000 years. They are a pair of sticks used for eating and preparing food. Chopsticks come from a variety of materials. They are normally held in one hand to pick up food like rice, dumplings and meat. Similarly, they mix, turn and stir food as it cooks.
The Chinese refer to chopsticks as ‘Kuaizi’. This loosely means quick little fellows.
History of chopsticks
Chopsticks originated from the Shang Dynasty in 1600 BC. Their earliest version were twigs cut from tree branches. Ancient Chinese used these twigs to stir and get food from pots. Over time, the Chinese population grew greatly. Resources became scarce. As a result, they cut food into small pieces so that it could cook faster. Consequently, this helped to save on the then scarce resources. For this reason, knives became no longer necessary at the dinner table.
Even more, Confucius was a renown vegetarian. He insisted that knives should not appear at the dinner table. Sharp and pointy objects were to be kept away from the dinner table. This is because these items would remind people to kill animals, a thing Confucius was against. Therefore, Chinese chopsticks have blunt tips to date.
In contrast, Japanese chopsticks have a length of about 9 inches and taper to sharp pointed tips. On the other hand, Korean chopsticks are usually metallic.
What are chopsticks made from?
In ancient China, chopsticks came from ivory. Similarly, some came from husks, tusks and animal bones. However, this greatly reduced the animal population and the Chinese began to use chopsticks made from metals. These included silver, bronze and gold.
Today, most of the chopsticks in China come from bamboo. They are the most common in restaurants and households. Likewise, woods such as pine, cedar and sandalwood may be used in place of bamboo. Even more, the Chinese also make chopsticks from stones. Jade, crystal and agate are the most commonly used. Even more, the Chinese have invented porcelain and plastic chopsticks. This is probably due to the need for recycling and conservation of the environment. Further, the development of technology has helped to facilitate the production of these chopsticks. They come in a variety of beautiful colours with calligraphy.
How to use chopsticks
To begin with, hold the first chopstick by fixing it in the valley between your thumb and index finger. Balance it on your ring finger. This chopstick does not move from that position.
Secondly, hold the second chopstick with the tips of your thumb and index finger. Assume you are holding a pen. Balance it using your middle finger. This is the chopstick that moves around and fetches your food. You will use your index and middle fingers to move it.
Hold your chopsticks further up near the ends for a firm grip.
When eating rice, hold your bowl close to your mouth and push rice into your mouth.
Similarly, use the serving chopsticks to fetch for food from the communal bowl. If serving chopsticks are missing, use the hind side of your chopsticks to fetch food.
Most noteworthy, always use matching and unbroken chopsticks.
First of all, avoid pointing at people with your chopsticks. Chopsticks are an extension of your fingers and pointing at people is rude behaviour.
Additionally, do not leave your chopsticks facing in a person’s direction. This is so when you need to excuse yourself. Lay them in an angled direction beside tour bowl of food.
Similarly, refrain from leaving your chopsticks on top of your bowl. This is an indication of insatisfaction.
Most noteworthy, never leave your sticks standing vertically in your bowl of food. This is a bad omen, usually associated with death.
Likewise, do not put the chopsticks in a crisscross or (X) format. It is taboo.
Even more, chopsticks are only used for eating. Shun clicking your chopsticks to make a noise. Do not use them to hit the edges of your bowl or as drumsticks.
Refrain from licking sauces and pieces of rice from the tips of your chopsticks.
Finally, avoid digging chopsticks into food as you search for something specific.
In conclusion, the use of chopsticks may be tasking for starters. If you have come to China to teach English, you must learn. Therefore, it would be advisable to buy trainer chopsticks to help you learn. These are the sticks used to teach Chinese kids. Also, when you get the grip of it, always use wooden chopsticks. Wooden chopsticks have better grip compared to plastic or porcelain.