One of the many interesting cultural aspects of dining in Taiwan, or many other Asian countries for that matter, is that people use chopsticks to eat. Everyone has seen chopsticks and knows what they are, but not everyone can use them. I remember many years ago when I first saw chopsticks(years before even moving to Taiwan) my initial thought was “How the heck do I eat with these!” So today, I will show you in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Pick up a pair of chopsticks. In Mandarin, chopsticks are called kuàizi(筷子).
Step 2: Place the end of one of the chopsticks on the webbing between your thumb and pointer finger, and support the other end with your pinky and ring finger. While you are eating, this chopstick will not be moving.
Step 3: Now take the other chopstick and grip it with your thumb on one side and your pointer and middle finger on the other. This is the chopstick you will be actively controlling to eat with.
Step 4: Now that you know how to hold them, it’s time to make those chopsticks work for you! It’s very simple and you should get the hang of it pretty quickly. Keep the first chopstick stable resting against your pinky and ring finger and across the webbing between your thumb and pointer finger, and use the other chopstick to pick up food by moving your middle and index finger. Think of it as a tiny lever and fulcrum.
(The way I usually eat with chopsticks is to hold the two sticks parallel to each other)
Step 5: Now that you’ve got it down, all you need to do is keep practicing. Now go eat some Chinese food. Forks are forbidden!
(Another way to use chopsticks, and the one favored by my fiance, is to hold them with the sticks crossing. The grip and controlling chopstick are the same, you are just picking up the food in a different way. Think scissors.)
Chinese phrases of the day: