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Chinese Chopsticks

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Foreigners Eating with Chopsticks
Foreigners Eating with Chopsticks

Different from the westerners, Chinese are used to use chopsticks as their tableware rather than knife and fork since the ancient times. It is said during the prehistoric times, Yu the Great used branches of trees and bamboos to pick up the fired food to avoid being burnt, for there was no metal ware then. Later, chopsticks, evolving from the primitive branches, was used to eaten all kinds of food by Chinese people. Chinese people can use a pair of short and thin sticks in various ways, including picking, moving, nipping, mixing and digging.

The chopsticks Chinese used are made of various materials, such as bamboo, wooden, silver, jade and steel, and among them bamboo chopsticks are light and the material is easy to get, so are very commonly used by the Chinese people. Chopsticks made of silver and steel are a little bit heavy and are good heat-conductors, so they are not often used. Those made of jade or ivory are too expensive. However, bamboo chopsticks are not easy to clean after being used for some time, so the Chinese familyies often buy new chopsticks. According to the historical records, people of the Shang Dyansty already used bamboo chopsticks, and the king of the Shang Dynasty used chopsticks made of ivory which was very precious.  

Using chopsticks do needs skills. Firstly, chopsticks usually have two ends, one is round which is the head, and the other is square the handle. The correct way is to hold the handle in the hand and use the head to pick up the dishes. Then, handle the two pieces of sticks between the thumb and the index finger, hold one of the chopsticks in place and use the other to pick. Don't forget to check if the heads of the two sticks are even before using, if not, tap them even on the plates. For foreigners, the most difficult is using them to eat rice. The tips are putting the bowl near your mouth and using the chopsticks in the way of digging.

Additionally, there are some taboos when using chopsticks. For instance, they can't be put on the table uneven, or it is considered ill-boding; handling the chopsticks with thumb, middle finger, ring finger and little finger is unaccepted, for it is impolite in China; keeping the hands of the sticks in mouth and making some sizzle is regarded as lacking of family education. It is also impolite to make noisy with chopsticks. Chopsticks can not be stick vertically into the food in a bowl, for a bowl with chopsticks like that is usually for the dead. So you can put your chopsticks on your bowl or on the table neatly if you finish the meal.

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