Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why I love Chopsticks

I just realized that, throughout my 40 blog entries, I haven't spent ANY time extolling the glories of chopsticks.

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that you were crazy, but today its true. I can't pretend any longer. I love you. I love you chopsticks.

During my first few weeks here, forks and knives were a luxury that I didn't find too often. Restaurants rarely have them, unless they are necessary for a particulary type of cuisine (try eating palak paneer without a fork or spoon). And, Veronica and I, in an effort to acclimate more quickly, chose not to purchase any when we set up our apartment. Best. Decision. Ever.

Dispite all of the comedy routines about chopsticks (I'm sure there are some), I'm thrilled with them. I'll list the reasons here, and they may not be what you imagined:

1: Chopsticks are GREAT for cooking
Nothing beats flipping meat or veggies in a burning hot frying pan with magical wooden fingers. I've even used chopsticks to straighten and clean up improperly flipped omelettes. I can't do it yet, but at a Peking Duck restaurant, I saw a hostess roll a peking duck crepe completely with chopsticks.

2: Chopsticks are GREAT for finger foods
As I mentioned above, chopsticks are like magical wooden fingers. Imagine, people sitting around eating individual peanuts and chilis out of a common bown without ever putting their filthy hands in. That is how it works with chopsticks.

3: Chopsticks make you eat more slowly
Even if you are GREAT at using chopsticks, chances are you will eat a bit more slowly when you use them. This slows down your eating, which lets your blood sugar level catch up with you, so you don't often over eat.

4: Chopsticks make perfect sense for most chinese food
Sometimes it seems like half of all chinese food is a dumpling or a stir fry. Nothing beats chopsticks for eating this type of cuisine. The utensils match the meal.

I've heard that chopsticks are actually different in different parts of Asia. Best I can tell, China, Korea and Japan are the primary users. While South East Asians and Pacific Islanders prefers fork and spoon.

China: Chopsticks are thick and wooden or plastic. Often reused.
Japan: Chopsticks are thinner or tapered and about 4/5s the size of Chinese chopsticks.
Korea: Chopsticks are frequently metal and are frequently used in conjunction with a spoon.