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How to Use Chopsticks

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the history of chopsticks. Chopsticks were invented a very, very long time ago by the Chinese people. In fact, chopsticks have been around for about 5,000 years.
In early Chinese life, food was cooked in large pots over the fire throughout the day and people would break off twigs from trees to eat from the pot. Chinese food also was characterized by the small sized meats and vegetables that were used. This was to conserve on fuel and other resources since smaller pieces of food cooked quicker. These smaller pieces of food (still present in today’s Chinese cuisine) made knives and forks unnecessary and thus chopsticks became the main utensils at any meal.

Around A.D. 500, chopstick use had spread to what is now Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Different sizes and different woods were used to make a variety of styles and shapes. Some chopsticks were rounded and pointed at the ends, while others were straight and narrow. Bamboo is the most popular wood since it is inexpensive, easy to split and odourless.

But how does one use them? It’s easy in four easy steps:

1. Hold your first chopstick between your thumb and first finger.
2. Hold the second chopstick like you would a pen or pencil.
3. Use your thumb and first finger to move the top chopstick to pick up items. Your bottom chopstick should remain stationary.
4. Have fun!

As for chopstick etiquette, read on. Some major don’ts of chopstick use:
• Don’t use your chopsticks to point at somebody or to enhance communication.
• Don’t use your chopsticks to fish around in the soup bowl for food.
• Don’t use use your chopsticks to move bowls or plates closer.
• Don’t stick your chopsticks and leave them standing straight up in the rice bowl.
• Don’t lick your chopsticks.
• Don’t stab food to eat ‘shish-kabob’ style.

Hopefully you have learned that chopsticks are more than just a couple of sticks. They are a huge part of history and now you know how to use them!

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