In China, people eat food with chopsticks. Chopsticks are a pair of long and thin pieces of sticks with equal length, and they are mostly made of bamboo, plastic, wood, and stainless steel. Making chopsticks using materials such as gold, silver, porcelain, ivory, and jade are less common. Some artisans even put unique designs such as calligraphy on chopsticks.
Chopsticks originated in China during the Shang Dynasty (1570 to 1045 BC). The first chopsticks were used for cooking (dipping meat and vegetables in boiled water when they were cooked in large pots) and stirring the fire, but not as eating utensils. Chinese people began to use chopsticks as eating utensils during the Han Dynasty. In ancient time, Chinese people used silver chopsticks to test toxicity in food because poison would make silver chopsticks turn black. As Chinese culture spread, chopsticks were introduced to neighboring countries through cultural influence and Chinese immigrant communities, and chopsticks quickly became common in Asia.
Confucius Promote Peace
Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher and teacher, who lived from 551 to 479 B.C. had a major influence on the development with his nonviolent teachings and on the development of chopsticks. Confucius was a vegetarian and believed that using instruments such as knives reminded people of war, violence, and slaughterhouses. They were too violent to be used at the table.
1. When eating rice from a bowl, hold the rice bowl up to the mouth and use chopsticks to shovel the rice directly into the mouth.
2. Use chopsticks to pass food to the elder people to show respect and love.
3. Use chopsticks to transfer food to closely related people such as grandparents, parents, spouse, and children.
4. Let the elders to take up their chopsticks first.
5. Traditionally, Chinese people would use their own chopsticks to get from the dishes to their own bowls or to pass food from the dishes to the elders’ or gusts’ bowls. Today, using shared chopsticks (Gongkuai) are common. Shared chopsticks are used to take food directly from serving dishes, and the chopsticks are returned to the dishes afterward.
1. Do not dig through and look for particular food. This is sometimes known as grave-digging in Chinese.
2. Do not put the chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice because it is like incense burning, which means feeding the dead in general.
3. Do not use the chopsticks to hit the side of your bowl or plate to make noises because Chinese people think only beggars would do this to beg for food.
4. Do not suck the end of the chopsticks. Chinese people think it is impolite.
5. Do not play with your chopsticks or use them to poke food or people.
Nowadays, chopsticks have many new functions beside tableware. For example, Chinese people can buy a pair of fancy chopsticks and give to their friends and relatives as gifts. Also, the Chinese term for chopsticks is Kuaizi. Kuai means quick or soon in Chinese, and Zi means son in Chinese. Kuaizi literally means having sons soon. A newly-married couple will be happy to receive a pair of chopsticks as their wedding gift.