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Chopsticks

Chopsticks are the traditional eating utensils, pairs of small tapering sticks, of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam (the four "Chopstick countries"). Chopsticks are commonly made of wood, bamboo, metal, bone, ivory, and in modern times, plastic as well.

Table of contents
1 Names
2 Usage
3 Types
4 How to use
5 General etiquette
6 Chinese etiquette
7 Japanese etiquette
8 Korean etiquette
9 History

Names

"Chopstick" is the pidgin-English and English name for the implements. "Chop" is pidgin-English for "quick", the Mandarin word for chopsticks being kuizi (筷子) or kui'er (筷兒), meaning "the bamboo-objects for eating quickly". However, originally in Classical Chinese and some older literature, they are zh (箸), possibly just a phonetic character that merely indicates that the object is made of bamboo.

The Chinese usage 'zh' spread to Japan and is pronounced hashi. In Korea, neither of the Chinese words are used now at all, but s__k (젓가락) is used instead.

Usage

Held between the thumb and fingers of the right hand, they are used as tongs to take up portions of the food, which is brought to table cut up into small and convenient pieces, or as means for sweeping the rice and small particles of food into the mouth from the bowl. Many rules of etiquette govern the proper conduct of the chopsticks.

Chopsticks are traditionally held in the right hand only, even by the left-handed. (In East Asia, as in Muslim countries, the left hand is used in the toilet, the right hand used for eating.) In modern times, biases against left-handed eating are becoming less severe, and so chopsticks might be held with either hand. Chopsticks are simple in design - merely two thin rods (top and bottom area smaller than one square centimeter, length varies), each with one end slightly smaller than the other. The smaller, round ends come in contact with the food. In practice, their use is an acquired skill that can take some mastery. In addition, East Asian food, which is usually made into small pieces more suitable for clawing than cutting or scraping, is generally geared to be eaten with chopsticks. For example, rice in East Asia is often prepared to be sticky, while rice prepared using Western methods tend to be "fluffy", and is particularly difficult to eat with chopsticks.

Types

There are three main styles of chopsticks:

How to use

  1. Put one chopstick between the palm and the base of the thumb,
  2. Use the ring finger (the third finger) to support the lower part of the stick.
  3. With the thumb, squeeze the stick down while the ring finger pushes it up. The stick should be stationary and very stable.
  4. Use the tips of the thumb, the index and middle finger to hold the other stick like an ink pen.
  5. Make sure the tips of the two sticks line up.
  6. Pivot the upper stick up and down towards the stationary lower stick.
  7. With enough practice, the two sticks function like a pair of pincers.
  8. For easier handling in the beginning, hold the sticks at the midpoint as a child would do. With proficiency, hold the sticks at the upper ends for a farther reach and a more mature look.

General etiquette

Chinese etiquette

Japanese etiquette

In general, chopsticks should be used for eating and no other purpose. Do not point with chopsticks, or gesture with them, or use as drumsticks, or use to bang on a dish or bowl to catch the attention of a waiter or waitress or mother or father.

Korean etiquette

History

Chopsticks were developed about 3000 to 5000 years ago in China (the exact date is unknown).
More info:   (
chopstickshop.com)   (Ginny McWong)   (google)