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Are the days of the typical chopsticks used by the Chinese to eat their meals numbered? Although, a priori, it is quite difficult to imagine a future in which the restaurants of the Asian giant have forks and knives that are practically non-existent today, this country is evolving so fast that even its most ancient traditions are in danger of disappearing forever.
Although the new tax on chopsticks is lower than, for example, the 10 percent levied on golf balls or yachts, and a far cry from the 20 percent stipulated for big-brand watches, the measure is aimed at reducing the red dragon’s wood consumption. Coinciding with the entry into force of this tax, a survey conducted by the Internet portal sina.com revealed that 73 percent of the 25,000 participants in the survey would try to avoid the use of disposable chopsticks.
The situation has become so delicate that many restaurants have already opted to buy higher-quality wooden chopsticks, better than single-use ones, to reuse them again after washing. But in a nation like China, which is not particularly noted for its hygienic conditions, many diners feel quite uncomfortable to find that their chopsticks are chipped or even nibbled, so all establishments have to have a stock of disposable ones for the most scrupulous customers and renew the reusable ones every two months.
Hashi the Japanese chopsticks. Chopsticks are the most important eating utensil in Japan. Japanese people use them to eat any kind of ingredient or food: noodles, meat, salad, rice….
They are of Chinese origin and were introduced in Japan in the 7th century. In fact, there are documents that date chopsticks in China in the 12th century B.C. At first they were considered a luxury item, but little by little they were introduced to the entire population until the 8th century, when they became an everyday object, used by everyone. At the beginning they were used for cooking and eating with the hands…later they were used for eating.
In Japan, forks and knives are used only for western food. Spoons, on the other hand, can be used for certain dishes such as donburi and curry. In addition to chopsticks, a ceramic spoon is usually given for eating soups.
The city of Obama in Japan (in Fukui Prefecture) is where 80% of Japanese chopsticks are made. In this city is located the Wakasa chopsticks museum. At the entrance there are 2 chopsticks of decoration of 8 meters long… the longest in the world.
Eating with chopsticks. Learn how to handle them. Eating
Every culture has established its own code of table manners, although there are some general rules that apply when eating with chopsticks. For example, it is considered impolite to point chopsticks at other diners and it is generally frowned upon to poke food with chopsticks.5 Also, you should never stick chopsticks vertically into a bowl of food: doing so is disrespectful, as it is reminiscent of the image of burning incense in a pot, a practice used to pay homage to deceased ancestors, and certainly not to do so at the table.6How to use chopsticks.
Infographic by Paulina Cerna FragaHow did chopsticks come to the table? Many of us may think that chopsticks came before cutlery, but historically, eating with chopsticks is a relatively new technique in Chinese and Asian cuisine. In the beginning, chopsticks were mainly used for stirring food during cooking, while spoons were the main eating utensil. 7, 8
A while back we did a survey asking people what was the first thing that came to mind when we mentioned Asia. For many, Asia is synonymous with chopsticks, but not just any chopsticks, no, not those cheese sticks, but what we call “chopsticks”, the ones they use in several Asian countries to eat.
After countless meals with chopsticks, we can say that our technique is almost as refined as that of any average Chinese and we no longer struggle with the grains of rice that before seemed impossible to grasp. With practice you get the hang of it, and even now it is rare for us to eat a whole spoonful of rice.
The first thing that amazes most people when they go to China for the first time is the speed with which they eat. The worst comes when you are invited to eat. The Chinese finish very quickly, making noises and sticking their faces inside the bowl, while we stay for a long time trying to grab what is left, if they left anything. The first few times we were always hungry.