Hello again, and Happy 2019! I'm finally recovered from the insanity and excitement of a record breaking holiday season at my restaurant, settling into a new apartment, and a whole slew of other epic life things I'll update you all on later!
In the meantime here's a fun little post to get us started again. Put down your spoons and forks folks, it's National Chopstick Day!
Developed in China two to five thousand years ago, it is believed that the philosopher Confucius was influential in their dissemination. Due to his non-violent teachings knives were discouraged from being used at the dinner table, as they may connect the mind to thoughts of war.
Today, almost one third of the world uses chopstick daily; about as many as use a knife and fork.
There are a number of styles and different etiquette related to their use, dependent on country. Obviously I primarily use Japanese chopsticks or waribashi, which are most commonly wooden, 9.1 inches in length, and come to a finely tapered point. A longer variety called ryoribashi are utilized while cooking, particularly fried foods like tempura.
When not in use, the pointed end should be placed on a chopstick rest. When picking food from a communal plate you should use the larger clean ends. Chopsticks should never be crossed on a table, which symbolizes death, or stuck upright in rice, which is only done at funerals.
In term of sushi, eating nigiri and pieces of a roll with your fingers is actually totally okay! That's why you are given a small warm towel at the beginning of the meal. It is only sashimi which demands the use of chopsticks.
Unfortunately the rise of worldwide interest in the cuisines that use chopsticks and the development of disposable sets does have an environmental impact. Almost 45 billion pairs of chopsticks are produced in China annually, about 1.66 million cubic meters of timber, or 25 million fully grown trees.
If you regularly get takeout from Asian food restaurants, due the planet a favor and ask for them to hold the disposable chopsticks, and get your household some sleek reusable ones!
Speaking of our planet, chopsticks are actually one of my favorite go-to camping kitchen items, due to their versatility cooking, eating and minimal space required when ultra light packing.
While the use of chopsticks may be a bit intimidating to those who didn't grow up learning, its never too late to start. Restaurants will often have "chopsticks cheaters," or a handy rubber band trick that will help you get used to the feel!