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Eating Chinese Food With Chopsticks

 
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:15 am
When I was seventeen, my date took me to a Chinese restaurant. He asked the waiter to remove the knives and forks, and replace them with chopsticks. He told me that the only way to eat Chinese food was with chopsticks.

I did not have the foggiest idea how to use chopsticks, but I was very hungry. My date gave me a quick lesson, and by the end of the meal, I became quite adept at using the implements.

Wherever he is, I want to thank that guy. I have found that there is something marvelous about eating those small morsels of food, one by one. I find that I eat slower with chopsticks, and enjoy the food more. In fact, on those rare occasions, when I could not get chopsticks with my Chinese meal, I did not enjoy it as much.

Have you mastered the art of eating with chopsticks? What do you think? Does eating with them make a diffference in your perception of the meal?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 27 • Views: 11,445 • Replies: 79

 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:17 am
it's been a while time, but i used to be pretty good at it
mismi
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:33 am
@djjd62,
I love chopsticks....it's the only way I will eat Chinese as well. We went to a Japanese Steakhouse with the kids one time. They took the chopsticks from the boys...put a rolled up piece of paper in between and then wrapped it with a rubber band. The boys were able to handle their chopsticks easier and could eat with them as well! It was so much fun...they enjoyed it so much...
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 08:04 am
when we were done we would shoot the individual chopstick up at the ceiling tiles. We got really good at getting them to stick. A bunch of us were chased out of a restaurant at Atlantic City.
This was a skill I taught my son and he carries on the tradition.
The secret is to get the chopstick to twirl just once before hitting the ceiling with the pointed side.

I have a set of ivory chopsticks that I bought in Seoul once. They are the best.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 08:38 am
@Phoenix32890,
Are you implying that in some venues it is actually socially acceptable to eat Asian food with knife and fork rather than chopsticks? The philistine barbarism of this notion appalls me.

There is a whole body of etiquette surrounding the use of chopsticks with which one should familiarize oneself if one is to use them properly. Just two examples: if you wish to share a morsel of your meal with your companion, never transfer it to his/her plate with the business end of your chopsticks. You use the blunt ends to pick it up and transfer it. (Learned that in a Japanese steak house in San Francisco.) And if you're in a place where the chopsticks they give you are the mass-produced disposable wooden wonders, it's customary to rub the ends together before using them, sort of like rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Ostensibly this is to make sure there are no splinters that might come off on yor food. (Learned that in Hawaii.)

When eating rice with chopsticks it is quite permissible to hold the rice bowl in your left hand (assuming you are using the sticks with your right) close to your chin and daintily shovel the rice into your mouth. Otherwise you'd best tuck your napkin under your chin as there will be spillage.

I have six sets of quite nice (though mass-produced) hardwood chopsticks that I bought in San Francisco's Chinatown a few years back.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 08:42 am
@Phoenix32890,
I am most adept with chopsticks...learned when I worked in a Chinese restaurant.

I love 'em too, and often use them at home.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 08:53 am
Use to use 'em all the time...but am not a stickler for it anymore. I was able, at one time, to pick up a single grain of rice!

Never did understand why they didn't invent a fork, though. Seems to me a fork has advantages...which is why I usually use a fork these days.

My guess: I will probably go back to chop sticks after reading this.
George
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 09:16 am
I was thirty when I met the woman I would marry. She was the one who
taught me to eat with chopsticks. While I was still a novice at it, I was invited to
Dim Sum with her family. I was nervous wreck, but I was determined that I
would use chopsticks. I wasn't going to be the Lo Fan guy with fork.

I was shaking a bit and about halfway though I started to cramp. I finished OK
with no spillage, but I had a cramp that started at my knuckles and went all the
way to my shoulder. Her family pretended not notice my shakiness. Later she
told me that I had gained considerable face.

sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 09:23 am
@George,
Oh man!

I've been to epic Chinese meals, I know how long they can go. The pressure! Poor guy.

I love chopsticks. Sozlet does too but hasn't gotten the hang of them yet. We have some "trainer" chopsticks, attached at the top -- similar idea to the rolled-up paper and rubber bands.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 09:25 am
@Phoenix32890,
I learned to use chopsticks properly from a friend whose dad was CIA who'd been posted in Taipei sometime in the early 1960's.

I can't imagine trying to eat rice with anything other than chopsticks. I've got a large jug full of the resto style chopsticks (gotta scrape 'em for sliver prevention before eating - doesn't everyone do that?) for regular meals, plus some fancy dan lacquer ones for special occasions.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 09:37 am
If my date had the nerve to tell the waiter to take away the forks and knives, and assumed I'd be happy about learning how to use chopsticks, especially if I was hungry, that would not only be our last date, but the date would end right then, and I'd go somewhere else by myself to get something to eat.

If forks where not available I'd use the chopsticks to stab the food, or a spoon that was used with the soup.

Can't use chopsticks, have no desire to learn, and don't see the allure. If someone watching me eat didn't like it, tough titty.

I wouldn't take away the chopsticks from someone who didn't use a fork and knife. I think that would be rude.
hamburger
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 10:01 am
@chai2,
i'm very good at stabbing scallops with chopsticks !
i have seen plenty of chinese - even waiters - use knife and fork - so don't see anything wrong with it .
of course there is also the method of "slurping" or sticking a large piece of meat into the mouth , biting off a piece and putting the rest back on the plate - very appetizing indeed .
finally there is the custom of biting of a piece of meat etc. and offereing the remainder to the "most honoured guest" - thanks , but i'm not the most honoured guest at this table .

but i'm not too squemish when hungry . as a teenager i lived with a farm family for a few weeks - they certainly were not rich , but hospitable to a hungry boy a long distance from home .
breakfast was a soup made from yesterday's (sour) milk sprinkled with caraway seeds with plenty of freshly baked bread on the side . a big bowl was placed in the centre of the table , we all grabbed our spoons and dug in . after the meal , the spoon was carefully licked clean , perhaps wiped on the shirtsleeve and put back into the drawer for lunch .
no harsh detergents that might harm the environment used for cleaning .
the end result : after 6 weeks of farmwork and healthy eating i had gained 15 pounds !
hbg
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 10:52 am
I learned to use them in Korea . . . often, in the places we ate, the only other utensil available would be a large serving spoon. Some guys complained, but the rest of us would advise them that they had better start carrying a fork in that case. The food is prepared with chopsticks in mind.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 12:06 pm
@Setanta,
Chopsticks are a really good dieting trick. You eat more slowly and are more engaged with concentrating on your food, versus just shoveling it in. I might start using them more -- I've got lots of Asian food planned for today; perhaps I'll do just that.
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 12:27 pm
@jespah,
Quote:
Chopsticks are a really good dieting trick. You eat more slowly and are more engaged with concentrating on your food, versus just shoveling it in.


Absolutely, Jes. I am normally a very fast eater. When I eat with chopsticks, I find that I am concentrating on each little morsel, and enjoying its unique flavor and texture, instead of eating an amorphous mass.

hamburger- I don't think that there is anything WRONG with eating Chinese food with a knife and fork. It's just that I am so conditioned, that I can't enjoy it that way.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 01:27 pm
I learned to use them as a child at one of my friend's houses. They served such great Chinese food! However, I don't care if I eat Chinese food with a fork - to me the chopsticks don't add anything. And her parents used to hold their bowls near their mouths and shovel the food in with the chopsticks so they certainly operated as a fork and not as a dieting tool. I don't like the plastic or wood chopsticks with the larger blunt ends; I prefer the Japanese style (very tapered pointy-ended) ones.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 03:05 pm
@Mame,
this chinese kid misplaced his chopsticks ...

http://www.moonbattery.com/archives/fat_Chinese_kid.jpg
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 03:19 pm
I don't remember how old I was when I first used them - maybe around six. My grandfather had an office in Manhattan and my mother, grandmother and I would meet him in Chinatown for dinner at a restaurant off of Pearl St. It had a name like Wu Fats, or that's what my childhood memory cells recall. It was a place that more Chinese than Americans ate at and the waiters would wheel carts to the table and you would select dishes (probably Dim Sum) that you wanted. I don't remember ever seeing a knife or fork in the place. You did get a big ceramic soup spoon if you took the soup. I think if someone had told me what half the stuff was I would have refused to eat it. I loved the dishware - the pattern was little colorful pictures of Chinese people in boats or walking over bridges. The chopsticks were always red with gold lettering.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 03:59 pm
I like all chopsticks, but especially the lacquered ones for their looks. I probably learned to use chopsticks in San Francisco on a trip there in my high school years.

What annoys me is when I have to ask for chopsticks at a chinese restaurant. Weird, I say, weird. That happened the other day. (Still haven't had good chinese food in Albuquerque, need to try more places.)
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 04:23 pm
be an environmentally aware citizen : PLEASE BRING OWN CHOPSTICKS !

Quote:
Chopstick-crazy Japan feeling the pinch
Last Updated: Friday, May 12, 2006 | 1:30 PM ET
CBC News

Restaurant owners in Japan are scrambling to cope with a 50 per cent increase in the price of disposable chopsticks imported from China.

The average Japanese person goes through about 200 pairs of chopsticks every year, for a total of 25 billion sets. Ninety-seven per cent of the wooden eating implements come from China.

In a move that has cheered environmentalists but worried restaurant owners, China has slapped a five-per-cent tax on chopsticks.
But due to concerns over deforestation, the Chinese government has placed a five per cent tax on disposable chopsticks. The move is meant to encourage the use of non-disposable ones.

At the same time, exporters are upping the price of chopsticks by 30 per cent, with a 20 per cent increase to come. They cite higher costs for raw wood and transportation.

That means a set of chopsticks that used to cost a Japanese restaurant the equivalent of one Canadian penny will end up costing about 1.7 cents.

Multiply that by tens of thousands of sets a year and it adds up.

"We're not in an emergency situation yet, but there has been some impact,'' Ichiro Fukuoka, director of Japan Chopsticks Import Association, told the Associated Press.

He said importers are now looking for alternative sources of wooden chopsticks, in places such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Russia.

Bamboo chopsticks are also being considered, and in a move that pleases environmentalists, some restaurants are conducting pilot projects with reusable plastic chopsticks or discounts for customers who bring their own sets.
 

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