Ever since, chopsticks have travelled far beyond the seas and the name changed from its ancient “Zhu” to “The English seamen chopsticks” and finally landed in the west as “Chopsticks”. Nowadays chopsticks etiquette is an integral part of a table etiquette.
Chinese men: “……chop, chop…..” (come on! eat your food fast, fast…)
English traveller: “chop chop?…” (amused!)
The origins of Chopsticks:
The legendary ruins of Yin brought into the world the first set of chopsticks made of bronze. The humble two little long sticks have their origins dating back to 1200 B.C, originally used as cooking utensils to reach into deep pots. History tells us that not until 400 A.D did they turn into the Chinese form of forks. It was during a time when population rise led to smart resource utilization; people started cooking food that was cut into small pieces for less oil use. That was when chopsticks found their way into the dining room.
Eventually chopsticks have been adopted into different cultures with their own unique styles. The Japanese “hashi” (chopsticks) are comparatively shorter, finely pointed ends that have a chopstick rest, avoiding the tips to touch the table. “Jeo” is its Korean version, and are usually made of stainless steel and are more like a spoon, flat. They are used along with a Korean spoon. And the Vietnamese call it “đũa”, blunt point more like the Chinese ones.
Chopsticks have grabbed their own spotlight in the celebrity world. We all do remember the famous Liberace’s piano great “Chopsticks” and its version by Tom Hanks in the film “Big”. Not just Liberace, these two sleek legged models have also inspired “The Chopsticks Diet”, a low fat Japanese diet.
“Man who catch fly with chopstick capable of anything.” ― The Karate Kid
Elegantly designed chopsticks are becoming the trend of the day. From simple wood and bamboo to engraved art, some of them are worthy keepsakes. They are also made of ivory, jade, and coral with Chinese calligraphy carefully and artistically painted on them. Children’s chopsticks have cartoon characters usually made of plastic. It was said that ancient royals used silver chopsticks that would discolour or turn black if the food served was poisoned.
The famous scholar, Confucius was a vegan who promoted the use of chopsticks as a form of non-violence when compared to knives which he hated.
- No matter what, never leave your chopsticks vertically dug into your bowl. It symbolizes death.
- Don’t use one chopstick at a time, don’t stir your food with one chopstick and don’t poke your food with it.
- If you want to take a break, then place your chopsticks horizontally on top of the bowl.
- Pointing rested chopsticks towards another guest on the table is a very poor etiquette.
- Do not use them to pick food form the main serving utensil.
- Don’t point at other guests or objects with your chopsticks.
- To politely say you have finished, place your chopsticks on top of the bowl (without crossing them) or chopsticks rest.
- Lastly, it is not a drum set. Never make noises with your chopsticks; it is an act of the beggars.
Best menus from Clubvivre to prove you are the master of chopsticks etiquette:
- Singapore Street Food Madness by private chef Benson Tong: This menu will take you through the rich culinary heritage of the beautiful Little Red Dot Island. This 6-course menu is designed to be enjoyed both for casual and festive occasions. Curious Ang Mo (expats) welcomed
- Authentic Asian Surprise by private chef Eric Low: Experience this 6-course meal of Asian-inspired cuisine with a modern twist from a truly global chef.
- Peranakan Tok Pajang by private chef Jasmyn Png: 10-course menu that tastefully captures the essence of Peranakan gastronomic culture.
P.S. Or if you can’t get a grip on a pair of chopsticks then try “Forkchops’. It’s a friendly version invented for those of us who have two left hands!! Do you have other chopsticks etiquette tips? Please comment below.