Chopsticks Over Forks

A pair of chopsticks is my eating utensil of choice. I began using them when I lived in a group situation — think lots of hippy-types eating brown rice, miso soup, and vegetables. Having a pile of bamboo chopsticks was more affordable and practical than silverware.

The practice stuck with me. Yes, it is difficult to eat meat unless it’s

been sliced during the cooking process. But just about everything else is doable, especially now that I eat a plant-based diet again. 

Some people are intimidated about using chopsticks. But really one doesn’t have to be very skilled. The lower chopstick is held stationary by the third finger and the base of the thumb. The other chopstick is levered between the thumb and second finger. 

Our kids ate with chopsticks as soon as they could manage them. One son said during a month-long stay in Mongolia, the locals remarked on his fine chopsticks skills.

I’ve seen fancy chopsticks made of metal, porcelain, or exotic woods, but I prefer the humble bamboo. I am not fond of the coarse, cheap disposable ones that come in restaurants or with grocery store sushi but I am sure they are a practical alternative. 

Yes, there are rules to using chopsticks like not sticking them vertically into a bowl of rice, which apparently is a symbol of death. (We have wooden chopstick rests, which resemble outrigger canoes, when we want to take a break.) Other bad manners include spearing food with the end or crossing them on the table. You also aren’t supposed to point chopsticks at people. But then, again, I wouldn’t do that with a fork or knife either.



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