Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Do's and don't's about chopsticks

I realized that people most like to read about China on my blog. So I have to write more about it!

Today, maybe because I didn't have dinner until 10.30pm and was hungry all afternoon, the post is about food! One of the most exciting things about Chinese food is ... chopsticks of course! Hope this post will be fun for those who've already been to China and useful for those who are going there soon (je pense bien sûr à certains de mes chers classmates qui vont aller à Tsinghua, Beida ou Erwai prochainement!!)

How to eat Chinese food :



- don’t drop chopsticks! Drop chopsticks on the floor is very impolite, because Chinese think this noise wakes up evil spirits…
- don’t plant chopsticks in your bowl with rice: it's extremely impolite, because it reminds incense for the dead…
- obviously, don’t lick your chopsticks!
- don’t use your chopsticks to point at people or when you talk
- don’t take too long to choose a piece you like from the common plate. Never put what you took back in the common dish!
- don’t use chopsticks and your bowl as a drum, i.e. make no noise when you eat

Now, what to do? All the opposite, plus:
- put your chopsticks nicely parallel to your bowl
- use different chopsticks for the common dishes and your own bowl
- use a spoon to eat soup (obvious!) or pasta (less obvious…)
- use a spoon to put some of the difficult-to-eat-with-chopsticks-food in your bowl (like beans, sauces, pasta,…), but not too much, Chinese don’t use separate individual plates, they prefer to eat from the common dishes

If you are not that good with chopsticks, try these fun exercises:

- eat spaghetti with chopsticks! (When I first came to China, on my very first day (jet lag, chopsticks skills really limited…), I was invited to a fancy lunch with some business people. And they served Chinese noodles of course! “Really delicious, isn’t it?”…Aha, but how do you eat them with two sticks???!!!)
- eat chicken wings with chopsticks with the skin when you don’t like it, and don’t cheat using your fingers to remove it! (On my first day of internship in China, we had lunch with all colleagues and the CEO. They ordered chicken wings! God surely wanted to punish me for something! 20 Chinese people around the table were looking in my mouth and observing me eating when I struggled with the two sticks, which they ordered plastic of course, to be “chic”, but they are so much more sliding than usual wooden ones…)
- eat beans with chopsticks

- Last but not least, a practical exercise, advised by a friend: use plastic chopsticks. Put some raw rice on the table and use chopsticks to collect the grains back in the bowl one by one, and then the other way. Do it as quickly as possible. Teaches you patience as well (if you don’t go crazy the first 2 minutes!)

Any comment or fun stories are welcome!

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