Published on January 20th, 2012 | by Jacob E. Dawson1
Chinese New Year Special: Chopstick Etiquette
When you’re eating with a knife and fork, everyone knows that there are some basic table manners to keep in mind, and eating with chopsticks is no different. While chopstick etiquette varies a bit from country to country, there are some common chopstick do’s and don’ts.
So with Chinese New Year just around the corner take some expert chopstick tips with you for your next Chinese Home Delivery order.
If you’ve grown up without chopsticks, you might consider them a bit of a novelty, but just as it’s considered rude to bang on a table with your knife and fork, it’s also considered rude to use chopsticks like drum sticks. So even if you feel the urge – don’t do it! (This also applies to impersonating a Walrus!)
Chopstick Etiquette Tips:
- don’t point at people with your chopsticks or use them to get attention (don’t tap your bowl or the table or other objects)
- don’t stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice – in Japanese culture this is a funeral ritual – so doing this at the table is a definite no-no
- don’t stab food with chopsticks
- don’t use chopsticks to move plates or bowls
- don’t try to use your chopsticks like a knife and fork to cut things. You can pick up a larger piece of food and take a bite, or use the chopsticks to tear a piece of food in half (but this takes practise!)
- don’t pass food from your own chopsticks to another person’s chopsticks (this is only done at funeral rituals in Japan)
- don’t lick or suck on your chopsticks
- if you’ve already eaten with your chopsticks and want to get more food, turn them around and take food from a shared plate with the clean end
- don’t pick up food from a communal plate and put it directly in your mouth – put it in your own bowl first.
- don’t dig around for something you want on a communal plate – take something closest to you – and definitely don’t put back a piece of food that you don’t like (!)
- if you’re given chopsticks that are different lengths or broken, ask the waiter for a new pair
- if you drop your chopsticks, ask the waiter for another pair (there’s no 2 second rule!)
- if you’re given disposable wooden chopsticks, it’s polite to put them back in their paper slip at the end of the meal.
** When you’ve finished eating your meal – depending on which type of cuisine you were chowing down on, depends on what you do next.
- if you’re in a Chinese restaurant, place your chopsticks together and lay them across the top of your bowl
- while in Japan, if you’re taking a break from eating, place your chopsticks together either on the chopstick holder or on the table. When you’ve finished eating, place them on the table in front of you with the tips facing to the left.
If you still need a few pointers on how to actually hold chopsticks, check out this video:
So now you have your chopstick etiquette sorted, go forth and bust out your chopstick skills and impress your friends when you tuck into your next Vietnamese Takeaway order. What is your most impressive chopstick feat?