I admit this a personal rant, before anyone complains.

For more than the last 25 years, I have watched characters in British films and TV shows happily eating with chopsticks. They seem accomplished in what I consider to be an ‘Ancient Chinese Art’.

Now I have eaten in many Chinese restaurants since my late teens, including many of the best Chinese restaurants in London. This one, for example.


But not once have I managed to master the art of eating any food with chopsticks. I am English, brought up to use a knife, fork, and spoon. Chopsticks have been a mystery to me for over 50 years, serving only to drop food onto my napkin, or worse, into my lap.

I love Chinese food, and I was able to eat it during my adult life by asking for a spoon and fork. (Occasionally a knife too, depending on the dish ordered.)

It now seems that I am uneducated in the ‘correct way’, to eat Asian food. What did I miss? Is it because I was never an actor?

Let me know if you think it is okay for English people to be expected to know how to use chopsticks.

Or is it just me? I hope not.

68 thoughts on “Chopsticks

  1. Chopsticks are used extensively here, Pete especially with noodle dishes I have only mastered it since living here for the grandkids its second nature they use either cutlery or chopsticks very well 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely I struggled in the UK and always ended up asking for cutlery here I couldn’t let the kids be the only ones using chopsticks hubby still doesn’t in fact he doesn’t even try to use them 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete, I learned to use chopsticks in the 90s because my kids could and I didn’t want to be left out. It wasn’t easy–takes some patience and persistence–but now I prefer them for Asian food, especially since it slows me down. My husband, who loves Asian cuisine, finds them impossible. But why on earth would anyone be offended because someone prefers western utensils? That’s just silly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not so much people being offended, Angela. I am just baffled by how every actor in a film or TV show seems to be able to use them very naturally, even English actors. But it seems I am not alone in finding them impossibly difficult. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Last time I tried to use chopsticks I ended up stabbing the food much to the delight of the other restaraunt patrons (I was in Beijing) but I was determind not to use the knife and fork so graciously given to me by the waitress turned out to be a very enjoyable meal and evening once it was explained that my original order was a banquet for 40 and my order ammended accordinly. 🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No. You are English. Nothing wrong with knife, fork and spoon. If people are comfortable and adept with chopsticks great, but sometimes I think people (not Chinese that is) do it to show off.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not alone.. Many moons ago in Australia a few of us went on a youth camp with lots of Burmese ( when it was still called Burma ) young people who cooked the most delicious food. Before each meal they would queue up to wash their hands, because they ate with just their hands. I found the scooping up much easier than chopsticks . Looking back I can see why their parents had decided with foresight that emigrating to Australia was a good idea.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I had trouble using them as a kid, until Dad noticed the mess and taught me. You could look into the ‘training method’ of using a rubber band on the end of the sticks..

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love Chinese food and we have many good restaurants here, especially in the International District (formerly called ‘Chinatown’.) However, if I want to actually EAT the food, I ask for a fork and am always obliged. I may have tried once in my youth to use chopsticks, to no avail.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think you should be able to eat food in whatever way is most comfortable for you. It took me a while but I am able to eat Asian food with chopsticks and eat it at home that way too. Living in Vancouver with a large Asian population helped. But I don’t have a problem with people eating with a knife and fork. However, I eat a lot of pasta but have never mastered eating spaghetti using a fork and a large spoon. So there you go!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pete, Indians eat by hand all the time. We don’t know how to use a fork and knife on dining table, let alone chopsticks. So, I’d say, dining habits are a cultural thing. Let them not come between you and Chinese food. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Your mistake was aiming for the napkin or lap. You’re actually supposed to pinch the food extra hard just as it’s headed for your mouth, causing it to splatter your own glasses on its way to a solid landing in your water glass, where it splatters everyone else…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I once had the art of chopsticks pretty well conquered but after years had passed, the positioning of the fingers and the resultant pressures and stresses in correctly holding the chopsticks began to wear on my wrist in a similar manner to carpal tunnel syndrome so I went back to knife, fork and fingers. It is perfectly alright to use the utensils you are used to using unless you are eating your meal in company with the representative ethnicity and then it is a matter of acknowledging and respecting customs. I used to bow a lot when eating in Asian food restaurants until one owner of a 5-star Chinese Restaurant told me it wasn’t necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

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