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Chopsticks are short tapered sticks used in pairs of equal length, as the traditional eating utensils of China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Northern provinces of Laos, Thailand and Burma. Generally believed to have originated in ancient China, they can also be found in some areas of Tibet and Nepal that are close to Han Chinese populations.
Many rules of etiquette govern the proper conduct of the use of chopsticks. Chopsticks are used like tongs to pick up portions of food which are already prepared in small and convenient pieces. Chopsticks are considered an extension of one's fingers. Chopsticks may also be used (except in Korea) as means for sweeping rice and other nominal morsels into the mouth directly from the bowl.
Chopsticks are traditionally held in the right hand, even by left-handed people. Although chopsticks may now be deployed by either hand, left-handed chopstick use is considered improper. This practice prevents a left-handed chopstick user from accidentally elbowing a right-handed user seated nearby.
Chopsticks are held in a certain way. The lower chopstick is stationary and placed between the base of the thumb and top of the ring finger, whilst the upper chopstick is placed at the top of the thumb and the middle and index fingers and moved to pick up food. Chopsticks, when not in use, are placed either to the right or below one's plate in a Chinese table setting.
In chopstick-using cultures, food is generally made into small pieces; however, some chopstick designs have carved rings encircling the tips to aid in grasping larger pieces of food. Rice, which is difficult to eat with chopsticks if prepared using Western methods, is usually prepared in East Asia with more water, which leads to "clumping" of the rice, making it easier to eat with chopsticks.
Chopsticks are most commonly made of wood, bamboo or plastic, but are also made of metal, bone, ivory.
The styles of chopsticks differ by culture. The Chinese chopsticks, for instance, are quite lengthy at an average of 10 inches and thicker than other styles. Japanese are of shorter length sticks tapering to a fine, pointed end. They are traditionally made of wood or bamboo and are lacquered. Korean chopsticks are medium length with a small, flat rectangular shape traditionally made of brass or silver, while Vietnamese chopsticks are long sticks that taper to a blunt point like the Chinese style.
Source and Photo credit: wikipedia.org
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