How to correctly use chopsticks while eating Asian cuisine - Hindustan Times

How to use correctly use chopsticks while eating Asian cuisine

ByAbigail banerji
Mar 07, 2024 08:46 PM IST

As using chopsticks at restaurants is getting popular among Indians, we look at the proper etiquette for using these slender sticks

We have all tried and failed at using chopsticks when seated at a fine dining restaurant. While they look like a fun experience, the correct usage of these slender sticks requires the knowledge of hand placement and follow-through once you have picked up the morsel. When it comes to food, it is always fun to try out new things. And proper etiquette makes it a more enjoyable experience while also being respectful to the food and its culture, similar to western cutlery such as knives, spoons and forks.

Chopsticks 101(Unsplash)
Chopsticks 101(Unsplash)

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Chopsticks 101(Unsplash)
Chopsticks 101(Unsplash)

Chopsticks have been around for many centuries and it is thought to have come into use as a cooking utensil, to toss or pick up food from a hot pot. The sticks were made from wood, bamboo, ivory and even precious metals, on some occasions, for royalty. It is said to have originated in China as early as the Shang dynasty, about 5,000 years ago and spread throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, interestingly, do not use chopsticks to eat and instead prefer to use their hands, similar to India.

In Korea, the people mainly use metal chopsticks as one theory states that this practice began during the Baekje period when silver chopsticks were used by royalty. They believed that silver would change colour when it came in touch with poisonous foods and used it as a way to protect themselves. The commoners adopt this practice as a way to emulate the King.

While chopsticks are called by many different names in Asia, such as kuai-zi in China and Hashi in Japan, when translated into English, chopsticks mean quick sticks.

Chopsticks can be used to eat all kinds of oriental cuisine including noodles, sushi, dumplings, soup and even rice. However, manoeuvring them to eat without dropping the food requires a lot of practice. It is also important to use the chopsticks the correct way as there are many ways one might unknowingly offend people from the culture while being seated with them.

Here are some of the No-Nos when using chopsticks

Etiquette coach Trisha Jain shares how you can avoid a faux pas while out in public:

  1. Do not stick the chopsticks into your food

2. Do not place your chopsticks in a crossed position on the bowl or table

3. Do not pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another, set it on a plate or bowl and let the other person pick it up

4. Do not use them to point to things or people or wave them indecisively over the food

5. Always use a pair of chopsticks, do not use one stick to skewer your food

6. Try and use a clean pair of chopsticks or the thicker end of the sticks to pick up food from a shared plate

A chopstick rest called hashi-oki(Unsplash)
A chopstick rest called hashi-oki(Unsplash)

The correct way to hold chopsticks

Hold one of the chopsticks inside the web of your thumb and index finger keeping it parallel. Place the other stick like a pen, with the ring finger in between to manoeuvre the sticks with a gap between the two and start Chopsticks end should be even. Tap them to ensure they are parallel to each other.

During meal time and in between courses, never place the chopsticks directly on the table. Instead use a chopstick rest called hashi-oki, a small table-like object that prevents the sticks from rolling away.

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