Fascination with Chopsticks

Try eating Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food with a spoon and fork. Somehow the experience is not the same. Somehow, chopsticks seem to complete the meal and make it more enjoyable.

Chopsticks. | Neil Conway

Chopsticks are an important part of Asian culture. Their long and colorful history that dates back centuries. Their practical uses are undeniable and their popularity has spread to all parts of the world.

Chopsticks (箸) were developed in China about 5,000 years ago. The earlier versions were twigs used to retrieve food from the fire.  Around 400 BC, as the population grew and resources became scarce, the Chinese thought of cutting their food into smaller pieces to decrease cooking time as well as to conserve fuel.

Chopsticks and sushi. | geezaweezer

This made it more convenient to make do without conventional cutlery such as knives and forks at the dinner table. Also, the use of chopsticks is in perfect harmony with the teachings of Confucius: “The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table.” This further boosted the popularity of chopsticks.

Chchopsticks2opsticks spread to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in 500 AD. The Japanese used chopsticks strictly for religious ceremonies.

Neon Genesis Evangelion chopsticks. | sunxez

They were made from a piece of bamboo that was joined at the top, which made them appear similar to tweezers. By the 10th century, Japanese chopsticks had evolved into two separate pieces, usually seven to eight inches long. They are more tapered than Chinese chopsticks (which are also a bit longer).

Some health benefits have been attributed to using chopsticks such as memory improvement and finger dexterity. They are also excellent tools in learning character printing and brush painting.

Read our previous post to learn how to use chopsticks.