Chopsticks are a utensil widely used across Asia for eating and cooking but they are growing in popularity in the West too! Did you know that there are actually different types of chopsticks used in different countries? For example, Japanese chopsticks are usually made from bamboo or wood, Korean chopsticks are often made from metal such as stainless steel and Chinese chopsticks are usually made from metal, wood, ivory and ceramics. Do you know how to eat with chopsticks? At first it may seem a tad daunting, but as with anything you wish to perfect; practice makes perfect! So get ready to impress your friends and family with your native chopstick skills as I’m here to help you become a chopstick master with some simple tips!
Let’s focus on Japanese chopsticks; mainly bamboo chopsticks that usually have clever little grooves imprinted at the tips to make food easier to pick up.
First I want you to imagine as if you were about to hold a pen; pick up one chopstick and rest it in between where your index finger and thumb connect with the narrow end of the chopstick resting on your middle finger. This chopstick must move so keep it loose with a firm grip. You wouldn’t want your pen rolling about when you’re writing… the same goes for your chopsticks when you’re eating.
Second place the second chopstick below the first and grip it with your ring finger and thumb. The idea is that it rests parallel to the first chopstick. Place your thumb just over the side of the chopstick to help it rest nicely in place below the first chopstick and use your index finger to move that first chopstick up and down. Make sure the chopsticks are even so that they don’t cross over at the front as that will make it difficult to pick up your food. Remember that chopsticks aren’t used to scoop but rather to pick up food. If only the top chopstick is moving then congratulations; you’re a chopstick master! Otsukaresama Desu! Now keep practicing the open and closing technique with and without food. You’ll be a pro in no time.
Japanese Eating Habits
These are some dos and don’ts when it comes to eating with chopsticks in Japan:
Don’t hover with your chopsticks over shared food. Make your decision and then go in for the attack… nicely. No digging for the best bits, take what’s on top and definitely don’t skewer the food…. A chopstick is not a kebab device!
Don’t pass food from your chopsticks to a friend’s chopsticks as this is a custom saved for the passing of bones at a funeral…
Don’t stab your chopsticks into your rice and leave them standing as this too is a symbolic of a funeral custom.
Don’t suck or lick your chopsticks. It’s Just gross!
Do hold your chopsticks correctly… that won’t be a problem for you now, hey chopstick master!
Do enjoy any dish with chopsticks, including rice and soup! Lift the bowl to your lips and use your chopsticks to glide the food into your mouth… it sounds odd for people in the West to eat like this but in Japan you’ll be seen as an eating connoisseur.
Do use a spare pair of chopsticks to share food from a communal plate, never the chopsticks you’ve used to eat with.
Bamboo Chopsticks Save The Environment
Did you know that bamboo is a renewable resource that doesn’t require pesticides or clear cutting? That’s great news for your body but also the best news for our earth! Entire bamboo forests can regenerate within 5 years so we don’t need to feel guilty about the production of these chopsticks. Compared to disposable wooden chopsticks, they’re much friendlier for the environment and let’s face it – they look top notch!
Japanese Dining Experience
Why not invest in some beautifully designed Japanese chopsticks such as these from Zak Zakka? At 22.5cm long they’re the perfect length for any meal and as I mentioned above, they have the non-slip finish that allows for easier eating. The beautiful patterns are sure to impress your guests with a delicate Japanese style. In a set of five, there are plenty to go around for your dinner parties as they can be used for fancy shin-digs or even for your casual Friday night takeaway. They may look authentic and precious, but as they’re made of sturdy bamboo they’re surprisingly durable and reusable so are dishwasher safe and dryer safe. Ever wondered how the Japanese stay so slim? Well apparently if you use chopsticks it slows you down which means you’ll feel fuller without over eating! With so many advantages, why not treat yourself to a superior dining experience with these Bamboo Japanese Chopsticks?