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Chopsticks


itch22
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I wasn't too sure where the best place to post this topic would be, so I'll try here.

I have noticed, and maybe I am alone here but I doubt it, the lack of respect for chopsticks here in the west. In my town there are 7 Chinese restraunts, one of which prides themselves on traditional Szechuan fare, 1 Himalayan restraunt, a Japanese sushi bar, a pho shop, and a Vietnamese restaurant that serves many regional northern dishes but not pho. That's a total of 11 places, and only one (the sushi bar) puts chop sticks out instead of forks, and only two others (the Vietnamese joints) have chopsticks in the back you can ask for.

This phenominon is not limited to my home town. Nearby towns, which are far larger with more diversity, often default to a knife and fork, some providing chopsticks upon request.

I like chopsticks. In fact, I prefer chopsticks to knives and forks. Obviously, there are many foods that require a knife and fork. To be honest, I use whatever I am given. I don't ask for chopsticks, except at the pho shop. It'd feel wrong to eat pho with a fork.

Another example is my fiancee's school, where she works as an elementary teacher, plays host to a relatively large group of Korean exchange students. Her co-worker, who is an open lover of Korean food, was presented by one of the children a gift of an elegent pair of chopsticks. He later mentioned in the staff room that he'd never use them. My fiancee thought it a little strange, but even though she uses chopsticks when eating Asian food she struggles with them to such a degree that it looks almost painful and I beg her to use a fork. She gets an "A" for effort, but the dry cleaning bills are putting us in the poor house.

As I said above, I prefer chopsticks to forks. At home, menu permitting, I'll use chopsticks. When our in-laws are over for dnner, most give me such strange looks (even when eating, lets say sushi which they too enjoy despite there chopstick phobia) that I feel so uncomfortable I revert to a knife and fork for their dinning pleasure. Yes, their dinning pleasure. Same thing with restaurants, I use what they provide me because I am tired of the odd looks I get from staff and fellow dinners when asking for chopsticks.

My questions:

A decision to use chopsticks should be based on A) the menu, B) where you are (in the world), C) whatever you like, or D) all the above?

Does anyone else find that chopsticks are not getting their just respect, even at Asian restaurants?

To Asian eGulleteers, do you ever have to ask for chopsticks at Asian restaurants?

Anyone in Asia have to ask for a knife and fork to eat Western food?

-- Jason

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All of the Asian places near me in NJ have chopsticks available on request, only one place (Vietnamese) puts them out on the tables standard place setting. I feel they should be provided based on the menu...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Around here every chinese/japanese/other-asian place sets out both forks and chopsticks, and lets the diner decide what to use. The only thing I really use the chopsticks for is sashimi. I can't imagine trying to eat pho with chopsticks, have go soup spoon on the way for that one. For Chinese dishes I just prefer a knife and fork. Chopsticks are sort of fun to play with, but more work than their worth to my untrained hands. If you were brought up on chopsticks, but all means, use them, but if you were brought up on knives and forks, use those.

That being said, if someone in China wants to use chopsticks for spaghetti, chili, or a porterhouse, let them go for it.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Yes, a spoon for the pho broth but you can't use a spoon for all the noodles and meat. My Vietnamese friends, like me, litterally use a spoon in one hand and chopsticks in the other, diving in two handed.

-- Jason

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Well, most of the Asian places have chopsticks out for you to use in my area. But that may be due to the large Asian population we have here.

Can I say one thing that really annoys the heck out of me about people using chopsticks? When people "play the drums" with them - it's so disrespectful and ignorant. Every time I see some idiot doing that in a restaurant I want to walk up to them and *kok* them on the head like a Chinese granny. Have manners at the table!

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I think that many places put them out but the patrons play with them then ask for forks so they save a little and only provide them for people who ask.

I solve the problem by carrying chopsticks with me. I have a case that holds two pair of chopsticks and it lives in the bottom of my purse until I need them. They are the Japanese type and I am fairly proficient with them and there are just some foods that just seem better when conveyed to the mouth via chopsticks.

One Chinese place here in town always places chopsticks on the table and they are the real thing, not the short disposable type. They are bamboo and are steamed to sterilize them. (I have been in the kitchen.) Here at my desk, I have a couple of pairs of chopsticks, one pair Japanese type, the other Chinese type in my pencil holder. In the kitchen I have a bunch in a holder and I have several pair of the long cooking chopsticks which I often use for turning deep fried foods.

I think they are an extremely efficient method of eating.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have chopstick envy. I am incapable of using them. I've had good instruction by multiple people. When I lived in Hawaii, some of the folks at work were determined to teach me but eventually gave up. Just can't do it. I feel silly when out at restaurants that have only chopsticks on the table and I need to ask for a fork or when everyone else at the table is using them and I'm the only one using a fork.

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Well, most of the Asian places have chopsticks out for you to use in my area.  But that may be due to the large Asian population we have here. 

Can I say one thing that really annoys the heck out of me about people using chopsticks?  When people "play the drums" with them - it's so disrespectful and ignorant.  Every time I see some idiot doing that in a restaurant I want to walk up to them and *kok* them on the head like a Chinese granny.  Have manners at the table!

How do you feel about people who play the spoons?

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I'm in Los Angeles. Most Asian restaurants have chopsticks on the table. Except the Thai places. I would assume that Chinese-Thai people eat with chopsticks. Or is that an incorrect assumption? My wife asks for chopsticks at Thai restaurants. Sometimes she just looks at the fork and then the server and the server immediately knows. Alot of Chain Chinese places automatically hand out forks, but there customer base is mostly non-Asian.

I've noticed though that in LA at least a lot of Non-Asians seem to have pretty good chopstick skills. I can't use the thin silver or metal Korean chopsticks. Lucky for me my in laws keep around some wooden Japanese style ones with the pointy tip. I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice when I first starting using them. Everyone at the table gasped and got a little upset. I don't do it anymore.

My wife moved to the States when she was five. This is apparently before most Korean children learn to use chopsticks, so she started learning when she was nine.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Can I say one thing that really annoys the heck out of me about people using chopsticks?  When people "play the drums" with them - it's so disrespectful and ignorant.  Every time I see some idiot doing that in a restaurant I want to walk up to them and *kok* them on the head like a Chinese granny.  Have manners at the table!

How about when people use the sticks to do a walrus imitation?

Or put them in their nose?

Or, harkening back to a prior post, hang a spoon off the tip of their nose?

SB (is there a special Thread for boorish restaurant behavior?)

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I'm in Los Angeles. Most Asian restaurants have chopsticks on the table. Except the Thai places. I would assume that Chinese-Thai people eat with chopsticks. Or is that an incorrect assumption? My wife asks for chopsticks at Thai restaurants. Sometimes she just looks at the fork and then the server and the server immediately knows. Alot of Chain Chinese places automatically hand out forks, but there customer base is mostly non-Asian.

I've noticed though that in LA at least a lot of Non-Asians seem to have pretty good chopstick skills. I can't use the thin silver or metal Korean chopsticks. Lucky for me my in laws keep around some wooden Japanese style ones with the pointy tip. I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice when I first starting using them. Everyone at the table gasped and got a little upset. I don't do it anymore.

My wife moved to the States when she was five. This is apparently before most Korean children learn to use chopsticks, so she started learning when she was nine.

I thought chopsticks were not traditional to Thai cuisine / dining?

That's why they're not routinely offered in Thai restaurants....?

Am I misinformed?

Milagai

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Eh. Not seeing the crime against humanity, here.

I eat sushi, sashimi, and nigiri with chopsticks, because eating that stuff with a fork is a non-starter.

All other east Asian cuisine, I eat with a fork or a spoon as appropriate, because it's easier for me, and because (unlike sushi) you can eat them without chopsticks.

* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.

* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...

<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

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I thought chopsticks were not traditional to Thai cuisine / dining?

That's why they're not routinely offered in Thai restaurants....?

Am I misinformed?

Milagai

I think you are right, that's why I didn't mention the local Thai restraunts in my initial post. I have never seen chopsticks in Thai restraunts. You might be able to get them at some, but because Thai food is trendy some of these Thai restaurants are acctually run by Vietnamese or even Chinese owners, so the staff acctually use chopsticks.

-- Jason

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I feel its one of those basic life skills that you need to have if you like to go out to asian places (or travel to asian countries, for that matter...) And as a basic life skill, it is pretty hard to learn if you only try once a month, when you go to a restaurant. You know, like making an omelette. Get a set, practice at home when people aren't around until you get the hang of it.

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Boorishness with chopsticks and cutlery is hard for me to take. I just look on it as actions by boorish individuals who absolute have no manners instilled in their upbringing. To be pitied.

Another thing that amuses me is to watch people trying to show off their adroitness with chopsticks by eating(?) loose fried rice off a plate :rolleyes: . We Chinese are nothing if not pragmatic and everyone I know would eat fried rice from a bowl with chopsticks. But if confronted with rice on a plate, pass me a fork or spoon please.

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I thought chopsticks were not traditional to Thai cuisine / dining?

That's why they're not routinely offered in Thai restaurants....?

Am I misinformed?

Milagai

I think you are right, that's why I didn't mention the local Thai restraunts in my initial post. I have never seen chopsticks in Thai restraunts. You might be able to get them at some, but because Thai food is trendy some of these Thai restaurants are acctually run by Vietnamese or even Chinese owners, so the staff acctually use chopsticks.

I was refering to the Chinese who have immigrated to Thailand and then to Los Angeles. Alot of the owners seem around here seem to Thai of Chinese descent.

In this case wouldn't they eay with chopsticks at home?

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Boorishness with chopsticks and cutlery is hard for me to take. I just look on it as actions by  boorish individuals who absolute have no manners instilled in their upbringing. To be pitied.

Another thing that amuses me is to watch people trying to show off their adroitness with chopsticks by eating(?) loose fried rice off a plate :rolleyes: . We Chinese are nothing if not pragmatic and everyone I know would eat fried rice from a bowl with chopsticks. But if confronted with rice on a plate, pass me a fork or spoon please.

It's a learning process, especially when it comes to other cultures. The French are pretty high and mighty about their use of cutlery. But they eat couscous with forks instead of the traditional spoons or fingers. The Koreans have their own idea of table manners, never stab your rice with chopsticks, don't "fish" for the bits you like from the communal dishes on the table, etc... But in Korea especially at the "workman's" type eateries, in lieu of napkins there is a roll of... toilet paper. :blink:

I guess the manners part kicks in trying to be respectful of other customs.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Almost every Chinese restaurant in the UK, even the most bastardised, dumbed down one has chopsticks on the table.

You quite often see people (Especially when trying to impress girlfriends :raz: ) start trying to use them, getting increasingly frustrated and then giving up and reverting to a fork.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice when I first starting using them. Everyone at the table gasped and got a little upset. I don't do it anymore.

I do not know what is the significance of this in Korean culture but in the Japanese one, sticking chopsticks into rice is associated with death because it is reminiscent of a ritual performed at funerals. I have seen many people at restaurants rest their chopsticks in rice in this manner and it is a great sign of disrespect.

And to this I would add that it is equally disrespectful when eating noodles with chopsticks to raise your noodle-laden chopsticks above your head and slowly dip the whole thing into a wide open mouth. No death connotation here but it is just nauseating!!!

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice when I first starting using them. Everyone at the table gasped and got a little upset. I don't do it anymore.

I do not know what is the significance of this in Korean culture but in the Japanese one, sticking chopsticks into rice is associated with death because it is reminiscent of a ritual performed at funerals. I have seen many people at restaurants rest their chopsticks in rice in this manner and it is a great sign of disrespect.

Really? I thought it meant the same think in Korea, China, and Vietnam as well as Japan - basically anywhere you'd find both Buddhism and chopsticks.

-- Jason

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My father was raised in east L.A. by a Korean gent and knew how to use chopsticks at an early age. And being a tenacious Dad :wub: he kept at me until I finally got the hang of them at about 10 years old.

There is only one Chinese restaurant in my town (no Thai, Japanese or Vietnamese) and I have never sat down for a meal there, only ordered take-out. They always include a couple sets of chopsticks which replenishes my supply at home.

I love using chopsticks to eat just about anything I can. Also, they're wonderful to cook with, especially frying, sauteeing and propping lids over a pan. If I stick the tip of one into hot oil and see a stream of little bubbles rising I know that the oil is hot enough. How hot the oil is depends on how fast those little bubbles rise. Not an exact science but it works for me.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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Also, they're wonderful to cook with, especially frying, sauteeing and propping lids over a pan. If I stick the tip of one into hot oil and see a stream of little bubbles rising I know that the oil is hot enough. How hot the oil is depends on how fast those little bubbles rise. Not an exact science but it works for me.

I find this a very useful technique, especially when making tempura.

-- Jason

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I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice when I first starting using them. Everyone at the table gasped and got a little upset. I don't do it anymore.

I do not know what is the significance of this in Korean culture but in the Japanese one, sticking chopsticks into rice is associated with death because it is reminiscent of a ritual performed at funerals. I have seen many people at restaurants rest their chopsticks in rice in this manner and it is a great sign of disrespect.

Really? I thought it meant the same think in Korea, China, and Vietnam as well as Japan - basically anywhere you'd find both Buddhism and chopsticks.

Well, I guess your question has answered mine! I wasn't sure if the Japanese superstition was there because it was reminiscent of a Buddhist or Shinto funerary practice. So if a Buddhist practice it is, then you are right, sticking chopticks in rice is a big no no as well in the other countries you named.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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