Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chinese Basics - Using Chopsticks

Elle using chopsticks
Confession: I am the only one in our family who has yet to master the use of chopsticks. Pea has been using them for six years now, Elle uses them whenever she gets the chance, and Hubby has been using them since before we met. When out with my friends for sushi, which they enjoy regularly, I have always used my fingers (that's acceptable, right?). But this year, I decided it's time to just learn. We can't very well properly explore China with a fork next to my plate. 

Chopsticks originated in China, and have been used for over 3000 years. They are used as eating, serving and cooking utensils. Bamboo and wood chopsticks are used the most in Chinese homes, but they are also be made in a variety of materials, such as plastic, metal, jade, ivory, porcelain and bone. 

You can watch a short, excellent video that takes you into the heart of family, friendship and the culture of chopsticks in China here.

In order to use chopsticks, it's important for the bottom chopstick to remain still while the upper one moves to grasp food. I read somewhere that beginners should start with their fingers closer to the bottom, and move their way up gradually as they become more comfortable. That's where I'm at with chopsticks, holding on at the very bottom - and it's starting to work. I can actually grasp food, and hold it long enough to reach my mouth. Most of the time. 

Photo Credit: Michael Leung


  • Don't beat the chopsticks on the edge of your bowl - the behavior used to be practiced by beggars.
  • Don't spear your food with a chopstick, use a spoon if needed. 
  • Don't point your chopsticks at another person, as this is considered insulting.
  • Don't suck the chopstick.
  • Don't stick your chopsticks vertically in a bow of rice because it looks like the incense burning ritual done for the deceased. 
  • When your are done, rest the chopsticks at the top of the bow.
  • If you are just taking a rest from eating, place the chopsticks on the side of your bowl, or on the chopstick stand

Do you use chopsticks?

1 comment:

  1. Do Not use chopsticks to cut food. They were not designed to be a cutting device. Some more confident users are able to cut food apart by pressing down upon the food and drawing the chopsticks away from one another.


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