A lot of people may want to impress their friends by learning how to hold and use chopsticks when dining in a restaurant. But did you know there are surprising benefits once you start using chopsticks?

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Why People Use Chopsticks?

Brief History

For those who are familiar about chopsticks but do not know how to use it, this is a good resource to learn about them. Basically, chopsticks originated in China during the 1600-1100 B.C. Shang dynasty.

This pair of cutlery is considered traditional eating utensils of Asian countries such as China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. They can be made of bamboo, gold, ivory, plastic, silver, and wood. Obviously, gold and silver chopsticks are heavier and more extravagant compared to the normal wooden counterparts.

Used For Cooking

Chopsticks were mainly used for cooking, which were capable of reaching deep boiling pots of oil or water. People began eating with these utensils until 400 A.D. It was originally the idea to develop cost-saving habits when a population boom came across China.

Used as Eating Utensil

They began chopping food into smaller bits and pieces requiring less fuel for cooking. Thus, it became perfect for its tweezers-like grip. Since food became knife-sized, the use of knives became obsolete.

Moreover, the use of chopsticks became more relevant when Chinese philosopher Confucius believed that sharp utensils are no longer needed at a vegetarian table. Thus, he remarked that it would only remind eaters of the slaughterhouse.

Today, different cultures adopted different styles of chopsticks.

Different Sets of Chopsticks

In 1878, the Japanese have created a disposable set of chopsticks made of bamboo and wood. However, wealthy individuals would eat with agate, brass, coral, ivory, and jade version.

At the same time, the most privileged would use silver sets. According to popular belief, silver corrode and turn black if it touches poisoned food.

Rules Governing the Use Of Chopsticks

Many countries use chopsticks, so those who eat using chopsticks can observe the following rules.

  • Chopsticks are not to be used when moving bowls or plates.
  • They are not to be used when making noise, drawing attention, or making gestures. It is rude and vulgar when you play with chopsticks, which is comparable to playing with cutlery in a Western custom.
  • Do not use chopsticks to play with food or dishes.
  • Do not use chopsticks to stab food, except when picking larger items like kimchi or vegetables. However, it is allowed to stab food that is difficult to pick up, but mostly not acceptable by traditionalists.
  • Chopsticks can be rested in a horizontal position on the plate or bowl to keep them off the table.
  • Chopsticks are not to be left standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other dishes. This is because stick-like objects pointing up resemble like incense sticks that Asian people use as offerings to deceased family members.
  • It is not allowed for a person to eat when the tips of the pair of chopsticks are misaligned. In the Chinese tradition, it is referred to as death.

Basically, chopsticks are used for cooking when stirring materials in a pan or moving meals. In fact, the Japanese use a single-use chopstick or split chopsticks called ‘waribashi’. So before using them, people must split it into two. Japanese people call it ‘hashi’.

On the other hand, Japanese people use chopsticks when there is a funeral ceremony of Buddhists. After burning the dead, the family and friends will use the chopsticks to move the bones of the dead that have been burned from the coffin to the pot.

How To Use Chopsticks With Ease

Knife and fork are not needed when eating with chopsticks. When using chopsticks, you hold it together in the same hand, which is usually the right. In formal occasions, it is considered rude to hold them in the left hand.

Steps In Using Chopsticks

  • Put one chopstick between the palm and the base of your thumb. The ring finger is used to support the lower part of the stick.
  • Use your thumb to squeeze the stick down while pushing it up with the ring finger. Note that the stick must be held stationary and very stable.
  • The other stick must be held using the tips of the thumb, middle, and index fingers just like an ink pen. Just make sure that the tips of the 2 sticks are lined up
  • You can move the upper stick up or down towards the stationary lower stick.
  • Just think that chopsticks are used like a pair of pincers. So with practice, you can easily pick food from the plate and into your mouth.

Different Chopstick Styles

There are different styles of chopsticks with variety in material and geometry. Depending on the country or region, some styles are more common than others.

  • Embellishments – Bamboo or wooden chopsticks can be lacquered or painted for decoration and waterproofing. Sometimes, metal chopsticks are roughened or scribed to make them less slippery.
  • Length – Typically, chopsticks are about 26 centimeters tapering to one end. Large or very long chopsticks are usually about 30 or 40 centimeters in length used for cooking, particularly for deep frying foods.
  • Material – A wide variety of materials are available when making chopsticks, which include bamboo, bone, ivory, jade, metal, plastic, porcelain, and wood.
  • Taper – Usually, chopsticks are tapered in the end used to pick up food. Chopsticks designed by the Chinese are more commonly blunt, while the Japanese tend to make theirs sharp and pointed in style.

Health Benefits of Using Chopsticks

  • Aid In Weight Loss – Chopsticks help you avoid overeating because you are forced to eat only a portion of your meal at a time. Since you are able to eat small bites of food, the stomach gets time to know when it gets full.
  • Lower The Glycemic Index of Food – This occurs because you are able to eat smaller portions of food and in effect enables better chewing. Therefore, it invokes a lower glycemic response.
  • Improve Coordination and Precision – Chopsticks can turn each meal into an exercise making your brain work. In fact, it can develop and improve your coordination and precision of movement.
  • Reduce The Risk of Choking – Since you are eating smaller bits of food, you will be sure that each bite won’t be too big for you to swallow, so you will be able to avoid accidents.

Learning to use chopsticks has its own surprising benefits after all. No wonder more and more cultures are starting to appreciate them.

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