Do You Make These Mistakes with Your Chopsticks?

In China, chopsticks function similar to the knife and fork used in the West. As with using a knife and fork, using chopsticks also comes with some no-nos. Before checking out whether you are making these mistakes with your chopsticks at the dinner table, let's learn the standard way to hold chopsticks.

Standard Way for Holding Chopsticks in China

Holding chopsticks closer to their upper end is more elegant and cultured. The following steps describe the standard way for using chopsticks.

1. Stabilize this bottom chopstick, which does not move when in use (the top chopstick can move).

2. The top chopstick is held like a pencil, with the tips of your thumb, index finger and middle finger stabilizing it.

3. The key to use chopsticks is keeping the bottom chopstick still and move only the upper chopstick. Your thumb firmly holds the chopsticks firmly while your index and middle fingers pivot to help the chopstick grasp the food.

When Holding Chopsticks

1. Do not point them or your index finger at someone. Some people hold chopsticks with their thumb, middle finger, ring finger and little finger, leaving the index finger free, which may then point at others. However, pointing chopsticks or the index finger is often done during a quarrel, and is recognized as impolite behavior.

2. Holding chopsticks upside-down which indicates that you are so hungry that your ignoring your table manners.

3. Sticking your chopsticks into food or rice when they are not in use is ill boding, because this is only done to the rice on an altar at funerals.

When Eating with Your Chopsticks

4. Do not hang your chopsticks above dishes shilly-shally, which makes it seem that you are picking and choosing your food.

5. Do not pick up other food when your chopsticks have food on them.

6. Do not stir or pick out food with your chopsticks.

7. Do not use your own chopsticks to fetch food when a pair of communal chopsticks is provided.

8. Do not knock on a dish or bowl with your chopsticks. This is recognized as beggar’s behavior in China.

9. Do not bite or suck your chopsticks, and do not use your chopsticks as a toothpick.

10. Do not jab your chopsticks into your food instead of using them to corectly pick up your food.

11. Do not pick up your favorite food more than three times without intermission.

12. Do not washing your chopsticks in soup.

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Hi, I'm Ruru Zhou
I updated this article on April 10, 2014
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