Thought all the different styles of East Asian cuisine Chopsticks are one consistent factor. The date back several thousand years to china, having appeared at least by the Shang Dynasty over one thousand years B.C., and they may date back further than this. Early chopsticks were large and probably used for cooking rather than eating food. Eating food with chopsticks seems to have become normal around the Han dynasty of 200 A.D.
Country and Regional Variations
China – These are the longest style of personal eating chopsticks (still smaller than serving chopsticks) and also tend to be thicker. Up to a foot in length they vary in style and material. Plastic and artificial materials are often used for chopsticks that have round, blunt ends. When wood and bamboo are used the ends are often pointed.
Japan – These are slightly shorter, at about 23 cm, and taper to a point. Children and women sometimes use even smaller chopsticks. Made of bamboo or wood the ends of the chopsticks often have grooves that help hold the food.
South and North Korea – These are medium length and flat. Unlike most other varieties they are often made of metal. Traditionally they were bronze or silver and highly decorated at the grip. Modern varieties are often stainless steel, with decorations being option. Often, like the Japanese variety, there are grooves at the tip to help hold the food.
The aristocracy often preferred silver chopsticks as it was believed that silver would change colour when exposed to poisons.
Korean Restaurant Sydney
Korean food can be eaten with western cutlery, but there is an appeal in using Korean chopsticks. As the Koreans always include a spoon there should be less difficult for western diners.
By Conventions in Korea:
- The elders or most senior person picks up their utensils first, followed by the younger diners.
- Either the chopsticks or the spoon are used, never both at once.
- The spoon is fine for soup and rice.
- Chopsticks are never put to the left of the spoon, except at a funeral service. Similarly, chopsticks left upright in a bowl or rice are also associated with funerals. Both are to be completely avoided.
- Traditionally a bowl should not be lifted off the table to bring it closer to the mouth when eating. But as other Asian traditions have accepted this practice the tradition has become less strict over time. It is easier to eat noodles this way.
- Chopsticks should not be left in a ‘V” pattern. This is a bad omen.
Though prepared in a different manner the ingredients of much Koran food is not to dissimilar to western food; pork, fish, chicken and beef are common, as are rice, omelettes and other sea foods. Like many good things foreign food is variation on the familiar, and well worth trying.