Shital Kakkar Mehra on chopsticks etiquette
All that you didn’t know about this long piece of eating sticks, do’s, don’ts and technique
Chopsticks are traditional eating sticks in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and a few other parts of East Asia. Owing to their popularity, one can request for chopsticks in virtually any Asian restaurant across the world. Traditionally held in the right hand, they are used for eating, very much like we Indians use our fingers. Rice ( special variety which is prepared with less water to make it ‘ clumpy’ or ‘ sticky’) and noodles are staple food in these countries and are ideal for eating with chopsticks.
Chopstick I– Rest the thicker part in the web between the thumb and the index finger. Wrap your thumb around it to anchor it and rest the thinner part on tip of your ring finger. This chopstick remains stationery. Chopstick II– Hold the thicker part between the tip of the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger to move this chopstick to ‘ pinch’ food from your plate. Make sure that the thinner ends of both the chopsticks are even and angled to the plate.
ACROSS EAST ASIA
China: Called ‘ kuàizi’, chopsticks are long, squared and end in a rounded ‘ eating end’, providing more surface area to hold the food. The bowl is brought close to the mouth and chopsticks are used to push rice directly into the mouth.
Japan: Called ‘ hashi’, they are tapered, ending in pointed tips and are designed to pick out the bones from fish. It is considered inauspicious to use chopsticks to transfer food to another person’s bowl.
Korea: Made of stainless steel ( earlier they were made of silver); they are relatively flatter and shorter.
Vietnam: Long chopsticks with tapered blunt ends.
Thailand/ Burma/ Cambodia: Used for eating noodles and noodle soups but not rice.
CHOPSTICKS ETIQUETTE Don’t:
Stick them vertically in the bowl.
Place them parallel on top of the bowl– believed to bring bad luck
Put them in your mouth or lick bits of food stuck to them use chopsticks only as a utensil to transfer the food.
Drop them, use them as drum sticks or toothpicks, wave them or point at people/ things.
Dig them into the common dish, trying to choose your piece.
Drop the piece you picked back into the shared dish considered unsanitary.
Traditionally held in the right hand, chopsticks are used for eating, like we Indians use our fingers
Use chopstick stands to lay them down when not in use, with the pointed ends resting on the stands.
Try to hold them closer to the thicker end.
If already used, use the opposite end to take food from the common dish.
Shital Kakkar Mehra Practitioner of Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol in India