This afternoon we will discuss our favorite Japanese dinner tool: Chopsticks.
3 things to take note of, if you will be eating in an authentic Japanese restaurant, is that there are some things to do with chopsticks that can be considered rude. They are:
- Sucking on the chopsticks when eating. It looks obscene.
- sticking them straight into the food so they are upright. This can be threatening to some.
- laying them crossed over instead of side by side. It's considered bad luck.
Now that we've gotten those out of the way, let's learn how to use them, from this lovely WikiHow article (by over 100 co-authors, so it's a need-to-know topic).
Here is another set of pictures from WikiHow.com on how to hold chopsticks:
Rest the lower chopstick right in the crevice between your thumb & index finger. Allow it to remain at rest, and sitting on the side of your ring finger as shown.
The upper chopstick should be held much like you would hold a pencil. Gently use your middle finger to open/close the upper chopstick to operate them.
Use your index finger to close them when you grasp food. Keep them closed this way until you put the food in your mouth.
Try practicing with larger food portions first, such as sushi, chunky veggies, chicken stir-fry, and macaroni or bowtie pasta. As you get better at it (and you will), then you can move to rice, small beans, thin noodles, and other smaller food ^_^
And just for some extra fun, let's learn some more Japanese!
- Good quality, non-disposable chopsticks are called Hashi (橋). Often made from bamboo, but sometimes also ceramic.
- Disposable wooden ones (like the kind wrapped in paper, you find in a buffet restaurant) are referred to as waribashi (割り箸). When finished with them, it is good manners to slip them back into the paper so others don't see used utensils.
- Hashioki ( はしおき) is the chopstick rest that sits along side your plate. If you leave your chopsticks stuck in the food or laying on the plate, it is considered that you are making your food an offering to the deceased, which at the least creeps people out.
- Sake is a Japanese drink that is somewhere between our beer & wine, in taste and style. It is pronounced "sock-kay". It often accompanies fancy meals in Japan, and it is very good manners to always say a toast and raise your glass to your companions before sipping.
- The Japanese "cheers" is the word Kanpai (sometimes spelled kampai) which is translated to "dry glass" (meaning to enjoy your whole drink). It's for good luck ^_^