They Are Not the Same!

Chopsticks, the notable symbols of the food culture in the Far East



About 6000 years ago, in the legendary ruins of Yin, a Chinese province located in Henan, the earliest examples of Chinese writing were found along with a set of bronze chopsticks. The first known chopsticks! The Chinese mainly used it for cooking before it was a utensil to eat. As trade relations developed, chopsticks began to be used all over Asia. However, every country embraced different styles depending on their social-economic status.


In China: Food-sharing is a common thing in Chinese culture. A turntable tray called "Lazy Susan" is placed in the middle of the table where people reach out to get their food. Therefore, Chinese chopsticks are thicker and longer compared to the other versions. Moreover, a blunt end with bamboo or wooden material makes it easier to use. According to a Chinese belief, if you hold the chopstick closer to the food, you will marry someone nearby, and if you hold it from the top, you will marry someone far away.


In Japan: In contrast to China, Japanese people seem to eat individually. A long chopstick isn't necessary; instead, their chopsticks have a thin and sharp end to make it easier to eat fish, which is one of the main foods of the country. Japanese people use different sticks for special events. For example, a chopstick called "Meotobashi" is designed to be a gift for newly married couples. Whereas; "Iwaibashi" is given in the New Year.


In Korea: Chopsticks in Korea are medium-length with a flat shape. They generally prefer steel; however, in the early times, the kings used only pure silver chopsticks, because silver changes color when it comes into contact with the poison. Also, Koreans adapted large spoons to their table since they make it easier to eat rice and soup.


In Vietnam: In Vietnamese cuisine, a longer and thicker type of chopstick is used to help the cook prevent his hands from overheating. Yes, they look similar to the Chinese chopsticks; however, the material may change.


In Thailand: Be careful here! Thai people don't use chopsticks as much as any other Asian country. They prefer to use forks and spoons according to the dish. For example, pad thai, a noodle including meal, is served with fork and spoon so, in a Thai restaurant, they won't give you chopsticks unless you order Chinese-style noodles.

Yet, we would like to warn those who wish to visit Asian countries.

  1. It can be perceived as disrespectful to point the sticks directly at someone else's face.

  2. It is believed that sticking chopsticks into rice brings bad luck and reminds people of funerals.

  3. Don't say all chopsticks are the same. It sounds like all Asians are Chinese!

 

Melis Ata