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Use of chopsticks in Chinese Food Culture


The use of chopstick has been a part of Chinese food culture. It has a history of about 3000 years. The invention of the chopstick has indicated the beginning of civilization in the Chinese food culture. The use of chopstick remains a puzzle and mystery to the other parts of world. However, it has many scientific theories behind the invention. The invention of the chopstick made the Chinese ancestors a final break to the use of hand for food.

Chopsticks were called as "Zhu" in ancient period. In general the word "chopstick" means "Quick" in Chinese and referred as "speedy

little fellow". The difficulty of the ancestors to use spoon to dip vegetables in the soup led to the invention of chopstick. The chopstick has thus become the most convenient tableware in the lives of the people. With the moving of dynasties, the shape of chopstick also developed. However, it was during the Shang dynasty that the king ordered his craftsmen to make chopsticks from the teeth of elephant. This marks the beginning of luxurious chopstick in the history of Chinese food culture.

The Chinese are the first to introduce the use of chopstick in their food culture. Its use is spread to other parts of the world like Japan, Vietnam and Korea by 500 AD. Chopsticks can be classified into five different types. The classification is based on the material used to make them like bone, stone, wood, metal and compound chopsticks. Emperors and important people used silver chopstick. The chopsticks made of bamboo and wood are most commonly used in Chinese homes. It is believed that the use of chopstick improves the power of memory and increases finger dexterity.

The Use of chopstick also indicates other cultural meanings. There are some taboos associated with its use. While using chopstick, it is advised not to stretch out the index finger as it is considered a kind of accusation to others. The chopstick should not be inserted vertically into the food because the Chinese do this at the time of burning incense to sacrifice the dead. In Chinese culture, sucking of chopstick is considered as an impolite behavior and lack of family education. Lastly, the chopstick should not hit the side of the bowl or plate. This is because in Chinese culture beggars only do this to beg food. A superstitious belief associated with the use of chopstick is that a set of uneven length of chopstick on a table, suggests that the person will surely miss the boat, plane or train, which he/she is going to board. It is also a sign of bad luck if one drops a chopstick.

The use of chopstick adds the popularity in the Chinese food culture. Many people in the world adore it. It also serves in many occasions. In Chinese culture, a chopstick that reads "Kuaizi" Which means 'to have sons soon' is specially designed as a gift for newly married couple. Skillful craftsmen painted beautiful woks on chopsticks. It makes it a fine work of art in Chinese culture and forms unique tableware in the world.



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