Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ohashi - chopsticks etiquette

Uniquely asian, the chopsticks has supposedly been around for 5000 years. With it, an unconscious etiquette has been ingrained into all asians from young.
For those who may be unfamiliar with this utensil, a few pointers:
  • Do not stick your chopsticks into the food, especially your rice bowl.
  • Do not poke the food or use your chopsticks to search the dish.
  • Do not wave, or especially point at someone, with your chopsticks.
  • Place your chopsticks together on the chopstick stand when not using it.
  • If there's no chopstick stand, it quite acceptable to place it on the side of your plate/bowl, or even on the table with the the tips resting on the plate.
  • Hold the chopsticks near the ends, not in the middle or near the tip.
  • After splitting disposable chopsticks, do not rub them together to remove splints. It's uncouth. Quality chopsticks will usually not have splints, but a quick look will suffice to re-assure you.
If you are in a restaurant and the chopsticks come in a paper envelope, do not throw away the envelope or crush it. It is re-used to keep your used chopsticks at the end of the meal.
If there's no envelope, place your chopsticks together with the tips pointing left at the end of the meal, on your plate or table in front of you.

Important tip to avoid a faux pas :- In most japanese homes, or even at restaurants, where a communal dish is shared, use the opposite ends of your chopstick to pick food from the communal dish. Do not use the end that goes into your mouth! That is, turn your chopsticks around for picking shared dishes.


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