Actually, the sticks as we would recognise them today go back as far as the late Shang Dynasty.
In case you didn’t know, that was 16th-11th century BC, so just the other day…
In the early days, the Chinese word for Chopsticks was “zhu” 筯, and during that time, the tyrannical King Zhou ordered his craftsmen to make chopsticks out of elephant’s teeth which were deemed to be of utmost luxury in early Chinese culture.
The rise of chopsticks versus early versions of the spoon which were just as prevalent in very early Asian culture, is largely thanks to the rise of wheat!
Millet and other such grains used to be the staple for most early Chinese meals, but as the growing appeal of wheat continued, so to did wheat-flour foods such as noodles and dumplings.
With a lot more in the way of noodles and dumplings knocking around, chopsticks were clearly a much better tool than the humble spoon.
There’s an old Chinese proverb which gives testimony to the above: ‘you are what you wheat’.
Ok, sorry about that – here’s what you should know about using them:
Dos & Don’ts
So with a modest 7,000 years worth of dining history behind them, there must be some etiquette rules around using chopsticks, right?
Well, there are loads!
Here’s a quick run down of the main ones that should see you through to the end of your meal and warmly welcomed back to dine again in the future.
Do take food from a serving bowl and place it in your bowl before eating – patience will serve hungry diners well here!
Don’t wave your chopsticks around or use them to point or gesticulate at someone.
Do place them on top of/across your bowl horizontally when not using them but DON’T cross them – crossing chopsticks is very taboo and a symbol of death…
Don’t stick them into your food vertically as this is reminiscent of placing incense in rice at the altar during a funeral!
Don’t pick through food with your chopsticks looking for which item to choose from a shared serving plate, have conviction and commit.
Don’t suck the tip of your chopsticks – yes, even if there’s some amazingly tasty sauce left on it! This will see you ridiculed in front of everyone as someone lacking a family education…
Do hold the bowl in your hand and use your chopsticks to push rice into your mouth, if you need to.
Don’t do that if you’re in Korea.
Do NOT pierce pieces of food with your chopsticks, this is very rude!
Don’t pass food to another person chopstick to chopstick, that’s also a funeral ritual…
Don’t break apart wooden chopsticks and rub them together – this is because people would often do this with cheap wooden chopsticks that splinter. Doing so with any pair of chopsticks tells the host you think their chopsticks are cheap!
Remember those and you should be just fine!
Considering upping your chopstick game or perhaps introducing some Asian cuisine on your menu?
We can help!
We sell traditional yet modern chopsticks that are packed with potential.
Our custom branded chopsticks are a handy utensil for your takeaway customers and those dining in.
We can print the chopsticks sleeve with your artwork and logo to increase your brand’s presence.
Printing your chopsticks or chopstick sleeves can be an effective and visually appealing way to increase brand awareness and are a fraction of the cost of other forms of branded takeaway packaging.
We produce both wooden, disposable and resin reusable chopsticks.
Get in touch and let’s have a chat about what we can do to help you.