Hey, Silverware Users!
Along with the majority of the world, you’ve likely grown accustomed to the handheld utensils we have for eating like the always-handy fork, the aiding knife, and the ever-helpful spoon. But today, I’m talking about the alternative to silverware—a much older method of handling food without one’s hands. I’m talking about chopsticks, of course, as it only seems appropriate on National Chopsticks Day!
A much older means of eating utensils, chopsticks have cutlery beat by many a millennium. It’s hard to say just how long since chopsticks have their roots in all the way back in ancient times. We can say with absolute certainty that they’ve been around for about the last 3500 years. But chances are they go back much further than that.
Using chopsticks as opposed to traditional silverware is quite a foreign experience if you’ve never done it before. But even for those of you who are rather handy with a pair of chopsticks, I’ve put together a short list of chopstick etiquette with which you may not be familiar.
Left or Right?
We all know (or were taught anyway) that your dinner fork is set on the left of your plate, but where do you put your chopsticks? Turns out they go in the same spot as the fork (though, below the plate is also acceptable in Chinese table setting).
Don’t Knock It
If you want to show your level of class, you’ll definitely resist your urges to knock on bowls or other dishes with your chopsticks. This act is associated in China as beggar behavior.
It’s considered impolite to “dig” for a preferred ingredient. This notion comes from the regular practice of taking food from a common dish—the idea being that the people with whom you are dining will be made to feel like they’re eating the food you rejected.
It’s not a good idea to stick your chopsticks so they stand up in a bowl of rice. It’s considered offensive since it is a traditional Chinese practice to stick burning incense in rice when honoring their dead.
Don’t Cross Me!
Much the same here in the States that the √ symbol signifies approval while an × means denial, this notion lands on the Chinese dinner table; laying your chopsticks down so they are crossing one another could be taken as an offense to your dining company so it’s best to avoid it.
So, now that you have some guidance on the etiquette, try putting down the fork and your other eating utensils today and pick up a pair of timeless chopsticks! You may find you prefer them to the silverware you’ve always known. Happy Chopsticks Day and, as always, thanks for reading, everybody!