The Essential Guide To Chopsticks Etiquette

© Pixabay
© Pixabay
Photo of Sally Gao
25 October 2016

If you’re eating Chinese food, you should be aware of how to hold chopsticks correctly, as well as the etiquette surrounding chopsticks. Even those who have been using chopsticks for years may be unaware of the finer points of chopsticks etiquette. Good manners go a long way, so read our guide below for a concise guide to dining with chopsticks.

The proper way to hold chopsticks

First things first. Lots of people have developed their own way of holding chopsticks, but only one method is deemed correct.

When holding chopsticks as shown below, the topmost chopstick is the one that does most of the work involved in grabbing food. The bottom chopstick simply rests on your fourth finger and in the nook between your first finger and thumb. Use your thumb and first two fingers to ‘steer’ the upper chopstick.

© Sally Gao

Pay attention to the following points: first of all, the skinny end of the chopstick is the end used to grasp food, while the thicker end points away from the food. Second, your hand should grasp the upper third of the chopsticks – it’s considered odd to hold the chopsticks by the middle. Lastly (and this is the most challenging part for some people), the tips of the chopsticks should be lightly touching as long as you’re not holding food in between them. If your chopsticks are making an ‘X’ shape, you’re doing it wrong – try adjusting the position of your hand.

Chopstick etiquette ‘don’t’s

Don’t drum your chopsticks against your bowl, the table, or any other surface. This is frowned upon because in the olden days, beggars used to drum chopsticks against bowls in order to get the attention of passersby.

Don’t stick your chopsticks into your food so that they stand upright. This is considered extremely rude, as it resembles the incense burned during Buddhist funerals. If you need to put your chopsticks down, rest them on your chopstick holder, if available. If not, place the chopsticks side-by-side across the top of your bowl in a neat manner.

If there are communal chopsticks available, don’t use your personal chopsticks to grab food from shared dishes. If you don’t see any communal chopsticks, confirm with your tablemates that they don’t mind using personal chopsticks.

Toshihiro Oimatsu/Flickr

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