Approximately 9000 years ago chopsticks (筷子 Kuàizi) were invented, bones and twigs were used during cooking, to make it easier to reach into pots of boiling oil or water. While food itself was eaten with the fingers as it was for the longest time everywhere else in the world. it wasn’t until 1800 years later that using chopsticks as eating utensils boomed rapidly across China and then Asia. Confucius, being a vegetarian, did not like sharp objects on the table since it reminded him of a slaughterhouse. thus (blunt) chopsticks and spoons were starting to be used for eating.
“The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table.” — Confucius
In ancient China chopsticks (Zhu) were made of different types of materials, mostly because it was a cheap and quick way to manufacture them.
- Animal bones, horns and tusks
- Jade, Crystal, Agate
- Pine, Cedar and Sandalwood
During the dynastic times there was also a believe that it was better to eat with silver chopsticks because the silver would turn black once coming in contact with poisons.
Unfortunately, most poisons didn’t react with silver, but garlic, onion or rotten eggs were more the cause of the silver to turn black.
In the modern China however wood and bamboo varieties are more commonly used. Private/home chopsticks are usually lacquered bamboo but commercially, in restaurants, melamine plastic is used. both for durability and hygiene. enviromentally these should be used more too, disposable chopsticks are a cause for 25 million fully grown trees to be cut down every single year. In 2006 China put a 5% tax on them, this had a huge affect on Japan because they import disposable chopsticks from China.
Of course in China there is a certain way of using chopsticks, a.. long list of how to use chopsticks..I took them from Wikipedia…..Follow them!
- When eating rice from a bowl, it is normal to hold the rice bowl up to one’s mouth and use chopsticks to push or shovel the rice directly into the mouth.
- It is acceptable to transfer food to closely related people (e.g. grandparents, parents, spouse, children, or significant others) if they are having difficulty picking up the food. Also it is a sign of respect to pass food to the elderly first before the dinner starts. Often, family members will transfer a choice piece of food from a dish to a relative’s bowl as a sign of caring. A variation of this is to transfer the food whilst using one’s own bowl as a support, underneath the food and chopsticks to keep food from falling or dripping, then transferring from there to a relative’s bowl.
- It is poor etiquette to tap chopsticks on the edge of one’s bowl; beggars make this sort of noise to attract attention.
- Holding chopsticks incorrectly will reflect badly on a child’s parents, who have the responsibility of teaching their children.
- It is impolite to spear food with a chopstick. Anything too difficult to be handled with chopsticks is traditionally eaten with a spoon.
- It is considered poor etiquette to point rested chopsticks towards others seated at the table.
- Chopsticks should not be left vertically stuck into a bowl of rice because it resembles the ritual of incense-burning that symbolizes “feeding” the dead and death in general.
- Traditionally, everyone would use their own chopsticks to take food from the dishes to their own bowl, or to pass food from the dishes to the elders’ or guests’ bowls. Today usually only in restaurants or gatherings with non-family guests present, serving chopsticks (公筷, “community-use chopsticks”) are used. These are used to take food directly from serving dishes; they are returned to the dishes after one has served oneself. Due to better education regarding sanitary eating practices, many families are adopting this practice at private meals as well. Alternately, they can be left stationary on the table, especially in front of the host at the head of the table, so that the host can politely serve his honored guests on his left and right (and so they can serve him in return) without using their eating chopsticks.
- When seated for a meal, it is common custom to allow elders to take up their chopsticks before anyone else.
- Chopsticks should not be used upside-down; it is considered acceptable to use them inverted to stir or transfer the food from another plate (which the person does not intend to consume completely). This method is used only if there are no serving chopsticks.
- One should not “dig” or “search” through food for something in particular. This is sometimes known as “digging one’s grave” or “grave-digging” and is extremely poor form.
- Resting chopsticks at the top of the bowl means “I’ve finished”. Resting chopsticks on the side of one’s bowl or on a chopstick stand signifies one is merely taking a break from eating.
- When taking food from a communal serving dish, one’s chopsticks should not pass over someone else’s chopsticks, hand, or arm; the diner should either take food to the side or wait.
- When taking food from a communal serving dish, it is done with the palm uppermost, it is considered rude to show one’s knuckles to dining companions.