Chopsticks can be found in history as far back as the Shang Dynasty in China. Although it’s use back then may have varied greatly to what we use them today, chopsticks have become central to the Asian dining culture as the fork and knife is in Western culture. Chopsticks, which is it’s English name, is called different things in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese.
You can find chopsticks tapered or untapered, different lengths and made from several different materials ranging from bamboo to ivory. Every country has its own etiquette on usage of chopsticks, so if you ever visit any Asian country, I definitely recommend reading up!
I’ve been using chopsticks for as long as I can remember. I was using chopsticks before I knew what a fork was. In fact, my mom still has my baby chopsticks somewhere in the house. Whenever my friends and I go out for some type of Asian fare, someone always asks, “Hey, how do you use chopsticks?” I think, it’s easy, then I have to think, “Wait, I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s second nature.” I literally have to step back and think, “How do you use chopsticks?”
So here is my attempt to teach the art of chopsticks. I’ve even included a video I found on YouTube, courtesy of HowCast at the end of this post. Remember, cliche or not, practice does make perfect! Don’t get discouraged, one day you’ll be such a pro, your friends will ask you how to use chopsticks.
While holding both chopsticks in hand, place the bottom chopstick between your thumb and middle finger. Position the chopstick so that it lies at the base of your thumb (on the joint) and at the lower joint of the middle finger. This chopstick shouldn’t touch the forefinger.
Place the top chopstick between your thumb and forefinger. The side of the chopstick should rest against the tip of your thumb; the top of the chopstick should rest against the pad of your forefinger.
Keep both chopsticks perfectly parallel and using your middle finger to balance the two sticks, try moving the top chopstick towards the bottom chopstick. Keep this up until you feel you have a good grip.
Now try picking up a piece of food. Hold the food firmly and try directing it to your mouth.
Keep into perspective that learning how to use a spoon, fork or knife wasn’t as easy at first. You were just very young and didn’t remember the trials it took to maneuver them. Keep practicing!