24 Aug 2016 in Food Culture
Chopsticks are all around Asia a famous way to eat : discover now how to use them and learn the correct technique.
It is said that chopsticks have been used in eastern Asia for 6000 years. The Chinese have been wielding chopsticks since at least 1200 B.C., and by A.D. 500 the slender batons had swept the Asian continent from Vietnam to Japan. They were first used as a cooking utensil rather than as tableware, to mix or to grab ingredients. As food gradually began to be cut into smaller pieces for easier preservation and faster cooking, people found it easier to handle these small food chunks with two rather than one, and they only began to be used at the table in the 14th century.
Chopsticks are traditionally made from bamboo, though they can also be made of plastic, wood (e.g. cypress, pine, plum, maple, etc.) or stainless steel. Some are even works of art – made of mother-of-pearl, porcelain, jade, or ivory, decorated with patterns, painted, varnished, inlaid with stones or lacquered in the Japanese tradition. These special chopsticks are collectable items.
In Hoshino Resorts KAI Hakone’s shop, you can purchase a few unique pieces created by a local craftsman (Mr. Tsuyuki), practicing the art of inlay like his forefathers for the past 4 generations. He crafts chopsticks from beautiful local wood, inlaying small cubes of colourful carved wood in the upper section, producing superb results.
If you have never used chopsticks, you should practice before your stay – this can only improve your skills. While it is not very difficult, it still requires a bit of dexterity. The key to mastering the technique is the following: put one of the chopsticks at the base of your thumb and hold it in place with your ring finger. This chopstick will remain stationary. Hold the second one between your thumb and index finger – this is the one you will use to pinch and grab your food. You will see, once you get used to it, you will not want to stop!