Friday, June 20, 2008

The art of handling chopsticks

Was having a conversation with a friend this afternoon over lunch when she started looking towards my food. Thinking that she was trying to get me to share my sushi with her, I began shoving the remaining pieces into my mouth at record speed.

"So... what are you staring at?" I questioned her indignantly with my mouth stuffed with remnants of seaweed and sashimi.

"Why do you hold your chopsticks in that manner?" She puzzled.

I never found out how to hold my chopsticks. I've got this theory about children from traditional Chinese families, having to handle chopsticks since young, struggled to hold it in the easiest but often wrong manner. Essentially, if you have your chopsticks forming an 'X' at any point in time, you're probably handling it the wrong way.

So, the theory goes that non-Chinese take pains to learn how to handle a pair of chopsticks, mostly from those disposable chopsticks package that is complimentary at any dim sum meals. That's why more often than not, you'll see a non-Chinese handling his chopsticks nonchalantly while a Chinese struggle with his on an opposite table.

So, are you handling your chopsticks the correct way?
Check out "How to Use Chopsticks".

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23 comments:

kyh said...

Using chopsticks is a delicate art itself. A lot of people handle the chopsticks in the wrong way. I know the correct way, but I can't seem to get used to it. Quite embarrassed to see that many non-Chinese handle them even better than us! After all, I'm not a chopstick person. Gimme a spoon and fork anytime.

Mark Reaves said...

I never looked at a tutorial on holding chopsticks, however I managed to learn the proper way to hold them.

My wife needs to see this tutorial as she has a very hard time with chopsticks.

Good article (^_^)

Deb said...

As long as I get the food into my mouth instead of on the table or the floor, I don't care. Anyway, whenever I was in China, the matter cropped up a few times around the dining table, and I did subtly watch how the local Chinese nationals wield theirs. They're of cos masters at it, but we Singaporeans were Very Pleased when we finally found one person crossing her chopsticks just like some of us do. Just one out of er.. 1.2 billion?? Hehe!

JC said...

I think I am handling chopsticks correctly. I never "X'd" a chopsticks. But one thing I am having trouble on using chopsticks is when I am eating rice. Filipinos are used to mixing soup with their rice so it gets soggy. And we rarely eat "sticky" rice so it's very hard to eat rice using chopsticks. Spoon anyone?

SheR. said...

Hee.. my Croatian fiance is learning to hold his chopsticks pretty well! Embarrassed anyone? :P

LadyBanana said...

I've tried to use them but gave up.

I'd be thinner though if I persisted, it would take me so long to eat anything! lol

C K said...

@kyh,
You know what? We never gotten round to getting chopsticks for our place in London. It doesn't help that Marks and Spencer sells only forks and spoons... and knives too. Sigh, so can't blame us for not using them anymore. :)

C K said...

@mark reaves,
Wow! So how did you ever learn it by yourself?! I mean, it's not as intuitive as forks and spoons, if you get what I mean.

Surely someone has taught you about it. Come on, don't make it worse for me already...

C K said...

@deb,
I know what you mean. I keep on looking at the others when I'm in a Chinese restaurant to spot those who can't use chopsticks well.

Sigh, really got to learn how to do it the proper way.

C K said...

@jc,
I tried eating that in Thailand with chopsticks (yes, they have soup with rice as well) a few years back. Gave up, use spoon instead. No point hating yourself for that :p

C K said...

@sher.
You must have taught him well. Please don't tell me he learnt it by looking at a diagram... oh please...

C K said...

@ladybanana,
Yeah!! Welcome to the club! Maybe you can try holding it in an intuitive manner (like I did), at least no one would expect you to use it the correct way. Poor me...

Thomas said...

Hmm, that's a good theory. I've heard that the Japanese have a different way of holding the chopsticks from the Chinese. But I've never seen any adult Japanese struggling with their chopsticks.

lina said...

Someone told me yonks ago, I hold my chopstick wrong, but as long as my noodles stay firm there, I'm happy. :D

eastcoastlife said...

We kids get knocks on the head by my father and grandmother if we hold our chopsticks wrongly. I don't do that to my son but I do make sure he is taught how to use the chopsticks correctly. :)

Wenbin said...

Ahhh, holding chopsticks, its a chinese art. Used for eating rice out of a small bowl.

Rudy said...

Ooh yeah, for sure I handle my chopsticks the correct way. I can pick up round slippery meatballs, rice, noodles, and sushi very well. Not trying to boast, but practice and competition makes perfect.

I always cringe when I see people use it wrong. My wife is one of them, and she's chinese! I tried to teach her the right way but she's just stubborn. So far I have not seen a non-chinese handle chopsticks properly.

C K said...

@thomas,
Really? I always thought that the Japanese chopsticks are smaller and more pointed. Hmm... I have never taken note on how they use it though.

C K said...

@lina,
Try having fishballs with chopsticks (without having to poke through them, like I always did) and you'll know whether it's the correct way. :p

C K said...

@ecl,
Sometimes I wish that my parents are more firm with me on using of chopsticks. I mean, both of them use it the correct way, there's no way that I could have held it the wrong way if they 'enforced' it. Sigh... oh well.

C K said...

@wenbin,
When I have to do that, I just shovel everything into my mouth using the pair of chopsticks. Looks as if I know how to use it properly. lol

C K said...

@rudy,
Now now... you're not making things better for me. :)

What competitions are you referring to? You mean, you actually participated in a competition? Gosh...

Haha, somewhat glad to know that your wife can't hold chopsticks the correct way as well. Welcome to the club, ma'am!

Jasmine Shanea said...

ask me to hold chopsticks is like a disgrace to the Asian community. I was scolded by the mother of an ex boyfriend for not holding my chopsticks properly. Sheesh. it haunts me till now. I'm so traumatized, so I shall stick to fork and spoon