Eating with chopsticks can be a subject of curiosity for those who are not aware about it. People around the world are mesmerized by the ease with which Chinese or Japanese people use chopsticks for eating their meals. Here are some useful tips for eating rice with chopsticks.
The word chopsticks was originally used by English sailors when they first came in contact with Chinese people. It is a literal amalgamation of the Chinese word chow chow meaning fast or quick and English word stick used to denote the shape of this piece of cutlery. Chopsticks have been known to exist since Shang dynasty (1766 BC to 1122 BC) in China.
Consequently, it's usage spread over to neighboring countries like Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal and Tibet to a considerable extent. Most traditional chopsticks are made of bamboos, ivory, animal bones, metal and wood.
Today, markets are flooded with cheaper and disposable plastic chopsticks as well. While chopsticks are popularly used for eating noodles, a person may be perplexed if he has to eat rice with chopsticks. Read this quick guide to make this Herculean task easier.
Using Chopsticks to Eat Rice
Here is an imaginary situation. You are visiting Japan for a business trip and have been invited for an authentic Japanese dinner by your business partners. You have some idea about eating noodles with chopsticks, but eating rice??
It might take a million years for you to finish a bowl full of rice....picking up each grain of rice one at a time, much to your embarrassment and frustration. But fear not! Here are some easy tricks to pull off the dinner meeting perfectly!
❖ First and foremost, understand how the chopsticks are to be held. Most Asian cultures encourage usage of right hand for eating purposes. Naturally, you are expected to hold the chopsticks in your right hand too.
❖ Of the two chopsticks, the lower chopstick is held steady all the time between your thumb and your ring finger. The upper chopstick is the one that moves all the time so as to grasp the rice grains. This chopstick is positioned on top of the index finger, thumb and middle finger.
❖ The Chinese and Japanese use the chopsticks to transfer food from serving bowls to their eating bowls or plates, just like one uses a pair of tongs. Chopsticks are usually treated as an extension of one's fingers.
❖ Now comes the more crucial part. If you were wondering how to pick up each rice grain separately, then there is an easy answer.
Unlike western rice delicacies, Japanese people cook their rice with extra water. The result? Their rice is sticky and lumpy and can be picked up in the form of tiny morsel-sized bits. Do not try to gather a lot of lumps in one go, lest all the rice grains, that you tried to grasp between the chopsticks, fall back into the plate.
❖ If you still find eating difficult, you may ask your host or the maitre'd of the Japanese restaurant for chopsticks with carved rings at their tips to enable easy grasping of rice morsels.
❑ It is not acceptable to use your chopsticks to break large pieces of food. You might ask your host to lend you a fork and a knife to cut large pieces of vegetables or fish balls so that they can be easily picked up with your pair of chopsticks.
❑ Chopsticks are meant to deliver food into the mouth, so avoid sucking on to the tip of your chopstick while you eat.
❑ Avoid making noise with your chopsticks by clanging them. It is considered ill-mannered and vulgar.
❑ In between meals, avoid sticking up your chopsticks vertically in your rice bowl as it is considered a bad omen. If you are discussing business with your hosts during dinner, it is perfectly fine to lay down your chopsticks on the wooden chopstick rest provided next to your plate.
❑ After you have finished eating, avoid laying your chopsticks in a crossed way (X or V shape) as it is considered a bad omen. Instead, lay the chopsticks in a horizontal way on the empty rice bowl.
As we can see that eating rice with chopsticks demands skill, concentration, and special attention to etiquette by a new person. At times, you might find it difficult to hold your rice morsels between the two chopsticks till you actually eat it.
In this case, you may need to hold you rice bowl in your left hand close to your mouth and use the chopsticks to pick up the rice and shovel it into your mouth just like the Chinese people do. If you follow the given tips, you might save yourself from some anxiety and embarrassment of failure at the forthcoming prospect of eating food with chopsticks.