I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people are pretty darn serious about using chopsticks. Why is that, exactly? I was recently reminded of a post I previously wrote on this topic and decided to give it a little re:view.
The other day at work I was in a meeting that went a little long. So they brought in lunch – some nice Chinese food. Passed out napkins and those little packets of soy sauce, and…chopsticks. What the heck is the deal with people and chopsticks?
Everyone so casually snaps them apart and begins whisking them back and forth, brushing off – what? Splinters? This from people who would send back a restaurant fork because it had a bent tine. They continue with whatever they were talking about, while oh so casually poking around their food and gesturing with their chopsticks. Casualness that verges on indifference seems to be very important in the flaunting of chopstick proficiency. Of course, that’s only my perspective, and I grew up in Iowa where the utensils of choice were the little plastic ears of corn with the prongs that you stuck in the ends of your corn-on-the-cob. So it’s very possible I’m just uncultured. And bitter.
ME: Are there any forks?
CHORUS: Ohhhh… don’t you use chopsticks? (This, very sympathetically, while deftly tweezing a glob of rice into their mouths.) The answer of course, is, “No.” (Because I live in America where we’ve used forks and knives and corn cob prongs for more than 200 years.)
I have, however, been to Africa, where they eat everything with their fingers. I notice that particular cultural custom hasn’t particularly gone mainstream here. But it may be possible I’m not the only one suffering from chopstick insecurity.
ME: Excuse me… I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get a fork.
CHORUS (well, 3 others): Ooooh… would you bring me one?