Things I Ain’t Got Time For: Chopsticks

Rate your ability with Chopsticks:
1- Does stabbing my food count?
2- I need to use both hands.
3- I can use them, as long as the objects are large and square
4- I can pick up more than 3 grains of rice with them
5- Samurai: soup consumption
If I had to rate my chopstick aptitude, I would probably give myself a big fat 0. The above scale is rendered inapplicable when it comes to me. In other words, I’m that one person at Yum Cha that will deny chopsticks and ask for a fork because I simply ain’t got time for ’em. Now throughout my 21 years I have faced some physically arduous and mentally challenging experiences, and yet there is one particular matter that I have attempted over and over again and simply cannot master; the fine art of chopstick-ing. After a solid seven years of Youtube tutorials, demonstrations from Asian friends and persistent failed attempts, do you know what I’ve finally concluded? I ain’t got time to learn how to operate two wooden sticks.

This is what I have resorted to

You see, sushi is my lunchtime meal of choice and I feel so uncultured as I self-consciously consume those delectable pockets of Japanese goodness with Western utensils. But then again, I feel like an uncultured misfit when I attempt to actually ‘use’ chopsticks because my lunch always ends up missing my mouth. Actually, let me correct myself; food doesn’t JUST miss my gob, it misses my face altogether.

I feel your pain, kiddo

I feel your pain, kiddo

Chopsticks are wonderful utensils and I both admire and envy those who can use these instruments. They enable the individual to exude a sense of elegance as they slowly pace their way through their meal. Poise and mindful eating; two concepts this Greek with stubby fingers has not been blessed with.  Growing up in a hungry Greek household meant that, to quote the great palaeontologist Ross Geller, ‘If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat’. Greeks ain’t got time for pacing themselves when it comes to food consumption; we eat intensely enough to consider it a form of exercise. Greeks ain’t even got time for knives and forks. We use edible cutlery in the form of bread; after all, this makes Kebab/Yeeros consumption much more efficient.  Therefore, I ain’t got time for fumbling about with chopsticks. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not a vehicle for directing food in my mouth, they’re the annoying red light or ‘Stop’ sign that makes my trip much longer than it needs to be.  

My “How is it even possible to eat soup with sticks” look

I tried to explain this concept to my friends when we were dining in a Thai Restaurant, to which one replied, “Hannah, you realise Greek’s have their own form of chopsticks too? You have souvlaki sticks?”
No. They are not the same thing.

A souvlkai skewer represents the pinnacle of culinary convenience and embodies everything that is uncivilised about the Greek way of eating. Unlike chopsticks, there is no art to holding a souvlaki skewer correctly, and you needn’t worry about looking like a clumsy fool; you simply grip it in one hand and chew chew chew away because lunch is already pierced onto it. Ain’t nothing graceful about Greek ‘chopsticks’; the ends are sharpened like mini spears to make our eating look even more primal.  Some call it paleo, I call it primal.

Chopstick etiquette is skilful, souvlaki sticks deny the need for table manners altogether. They are not the same thing. I rest my case.

If Sushi was Greek.

Indeed, I wish I could use chopsticks correctly to impress all the waitstaff at my local Sushi Train. But I know that I will just end up looking like this: I ain’t got time for rice explosions. I ain’t got the patience to deal with dumplings rolling around like mini bowling balls or soy sauce leaking all over the place… I ain’t got time for a mini food fight with myself, nor do I wish to present myself as everyone’s slapstick lunchtime entertainment. Chopsticks? Nah, a fork will do thank you!

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11 responses

  1. Haha chopsticks. I’ve become skilled with them living in SE Asia, but just use a fork and use it with confidence like you don’t give a care what those haters think. Who u gotta impress with your chopstick using ability? Most white people around you probably aren’t using them right anyway :P

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  2. There is one secret that none of your friends and all those YouTube videos aren’t telling you. Relax. That’s it. Just like anything else in life, going with the flow is easier than fighting it.

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  3. Indeed, relax. Practice in private when you have time. I rate myself a 5. But then I learned t use sticks when I was six. And there is a lot of etiquette involved with them, like it or not, it is another culture. Just don’t stab food, stick them in something and leave them sticking up while you talk (it mimics the sticks of incense at funerals so you can see how that would not be welcome), or put your sticks on your plate. That means you are through eating. Don’t gesture at people with them while you are talking. It takes time to learn the use of them. There are some things we don’t learn the first time. If you have an Asian store near your, purchase a pair of “training” sticks made for children.. Really. it is a good talent to use. otherwise….

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      • Yes they do and in nifty colors. I bought my mother a pair of hot pink hello kitty ones. she has parkinsons and can’t use the regular ones anymore, but she likes eating her Asian foods with sticks. I found them when I went to purchase some things to cook with. I thought they were pretty neat. She loves the hello kitty sticks and gets a kick out of pulling them out at Chinese/Japanese restaurants.

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  4. I’d rate myself a 4, since I never ate soup with chopsticks. I learned it fairly easily, but I think that might just be because I’m left-handed? So when I was small I had to figure out my own ways to do everything from using scissors to tying my shoes, which may have gotten me used to holding things in different ways.

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  5. Thanks for visiting my blog, Hannah. I don’t usually struggle with chopsticks but then again, I mostly use one for stirring tall drinks.

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