First step is to take one chopstick, hold between thumb and index finger of right hand. Extend right arm up over head and calmly call out to the waitress, “Excuse me ma’am, could you please bring me a fork?” Often foreigners in Asia are complimented on how they use chopsticks. Many, however, are not actually using them properly. Then again, neither are most Asian people. But can you spot the proper way to hold chopsticks? In the pictures below you can see different ways of holding chopsticks, but only one way is the right way. Can you tell which?*
There’s more to chopsticks than meets the eye. From their humble beginnings as cooking utensils to paper-wrapped bamboo sets at the sushi counter.
The use of chopsticks has been a part of Chinese food culture. In ancient times, chopsticks were called ‘Zhu’. Our ancestors liked to steam or boil food, where it was difficult for them to use spoons to dip vegetables in the soup. Thus, the ‘Zhu’ were born. Chopsticks represent the ability to make do with minimal resources. They are a cultural icon in many Asian countries. Their simplicity is a direct reflection of the ancient maxim, “less is more”. However, there are some taboos that you must pay great attention to, or you are at risk of being laughed at. Firstly, don’t use them to noisily hit the side of your bowl or plate; Chinese people believe only beggars would do this. Secondly, when you use them, don’t stretch out your index finger, or use them to point to others. This would be regarded as a kind of accusation. And lastly, don’t insert them vertically into the bowls or dishes. Chinese people do this only when they burn incense to sacrifice the dead. So what do you do? Read our article, and become a chopsticks pro, or remain boring and ask for a Knife and Fork.