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Chinese Chopsticks

In ancient times, Chinese ancestors liked to steam or boil food. It is difficult for them to dip vegetables in the soup with a spoon, so they skillfully invented chopsticks to catch food,  which has become the most useful tableware in China. Chopsticks play the most important role in Chinese food culture.  Chinese have used it as their main tableware for more than 3,000 years. It is believed that chopsticks make people more dexterous.

During the Neolithic period from 7000 BC to 6000 BC, ancient chopsticks were mainly made from animal bones. Today, among all kinds of tableware available, chopsticks can best embody the characteristics of Chinese culture and become an important symbol of Chinese tradition. Chopsticks, pronounced "Zhu" in ancient China, are today called "Kuaizi". The Chinese character "Zhu" means food utensils with "bamboo" meaning element and "human" as sound element.  Therefore, the original meaning of "Zhu" is defined as a tool to pick up food. 

It is said that in prehistoric times, Da Yu used branches and bamboo to collect burnt food to avoid being burnt because there were no metal utensils. Later, chopsticks evolved from primitive branches and were used by the Chinese to eat all kinds of food. Chinese use chopsticks in a variety of ways, including picking, moving, nipping, mixing and digging.

What Are Chopsticks Made of?
Chopsticks are made of many different materials, including bamboo, wood, animal bones (Angle), ivory, beautiful stone (bowler hats, crystal, jade, Shoushan stone), metal (gold, silver, tin, lead, copper, iron, alloy, stainless steel, etc.), rare materials (dragon horn, rhinoceros horn, turtles and peacock bones) and others (fish bones, coral and plastic, etc.). Chopsticks are carved in various colors, from short lines to spirals, from ancient poems and couplets to paintings and pyrographs. Historically, silver chopsticks have been used to detect toxins in food. Bamboo chopsticks are the most commonly used chopsticks in Chinese people's daily life. They are roughly the same length (about 25 cm) across China.

How to Use Chopsticks?
The art of eating with chopsticks is often difficult for foreigners, but it is easy to learn. The way Chinese people use chopsticks varies from person to person, but generally speaking, chopsticks are held in the right hand (many people do hold them in the left hand). First, keep the chopstick low and steady, letting the thick end rest naturally at the junction of your thumb and index finger. Second, the upper chopsticks are held by the thumb, middle finger and index finger. In this way, the tips of the chopsticks can be separated or put together to pick up a small piece of food. Don't forget to check the heads of the sticks are even before using them, and if not, tap them on a plate. The hardest thing for foreigners is to eat rice with them. The trick is to hold the bowl to your mouth and using the chopsticks in the way of digging.

Chopsticks Etiquette
1. After the meal, place your chopsticks flat next to your bowl or plate, or on a chopstick rack.
2. In some restaurants, there may be chopsticks of different lengths. Try to choose a pair of chopsticks of the same length. However, at home or in most upscale Chinese restaurants, all chopsticks are the same length.
3. Never stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, otherwise it will be regarded as a bad omen and will arouse the resentment of the elders. The reason is that it is the only way to show respect and care for the dead.
4. Don't tap your bowl with your chopsticks, especially if you are a guest, because people think it is the humble behavior of beggars when they are begging.
5. It is considered impolite to hold chopsticks all the time when eating. As soon as a diner takes a bite of their food, they should place their chopsticks next to the bowl or plate they are eating from.
6. It is impolite, even rude, to point at others with chopsticks while eating.

Chopsticks are representative of Chinese culture. Whenever and wherever Chinese people are, they find it difficult to have a meal without chopsticks. In addition, chopsticks can be presented as a gift or function as a unique handcraft for people to distribute and express their feelings.

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