14 October 2008

When Eating Becomes Art

If you aren't talking those cheap disposable things from Chinese restaurants, chopsticks, 箸 (hashi), can and should be really beautiful things. I know I buy them for beauty. I only regret that my set of jade ones broke last time I moved. Average age of my collection is ten or so years.

I remember my first week getting back from Japan and sitting down to a big bowl of veggie soup I had just made, with nice big chunks of veggies and some soba hidden underneath. I looked at the soup. I looked at the spoon in my hand. I looked at the soup. I wasn't sure of what to do next. I got up, went into the kitchen, and traded my spoon for some chopsticks.

By the way, the elegant, and expensive, ones often cheat a little for your benefit and mix some grit in with the enamel or lacquer, giving the tips a good solid grip on all but the slipperiest of pieces.

And you really just need to remember three rules when dealing with chopsticks:

  • Never stick them upright in anything, especially rice. It marks it as an offering to the dead.
  • Don't use them to point at people when talking. In this case, because it is just plain rude. It is rude with Western tableware too, but we seem to have forgotten that over time.
  • Don't give metal ones as gifts, except to friends who are Korean. (Okay, not sure about the Chinese on this one.) Giving a Japanese friend a gift of metal chopsticks is not too far off from complimenting a Korean friend on their kimchee. They'll understand you're an ignorant Westerner, but they'll still be slighted.

Anyway, the article on the store is via treehugger.

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