The use of chopsticks to pick food up from the plate will earn you several complements from Chinese people. But over time, once in a while your close friends might remind you about some basic chopsticks etiquette such as never insert chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice. If you want to master the art of using this centuries old cutlery, here are 12 rules to keep in mind.
1. Do not use chopsticks of different lengths. This will remind people a Chinese idiom “three long and two short” (三长两短), which is applied as another name for coffin, because a coffin without a lid is composed of five boards, three long, and two short.
2. Don’t use chopsticks to poke at each dish without knowing what you want.
3. Do not drop your chopstick on the floor. Chinese people believe that their ancestors are resting underneath the earth, and dropping chopsticks would disturb them.
4. Don’t make noise with chopsticks by hitting the side of your bowl because only beggars do that to get attention.
5. Never fetch food with the wrong ends of the chopsticks. It is considered as a sign of losing face, since the fatter end is supposed to be the face of the chopsticks.
6.While passing someone a bowl of rice or noodles, never insert the chopsticks vertically in the middle of the food for convenience. The action would remind people of burning incense sticks in the pot to sacrifice for the dead.
7. While eating, never hold the chopsticks with your index finger pointing out. Using the index finger to point at someone is the Chinese take of giving the finger.
8. Never use only one chopstick to poke and fetch the food in the plate.
9. Like sipping on your noodles quietly is a good thing, don’t suck on the chopsticks and make noise, although babies and toddlers can be excused.
10. Don’t rest the chopsticks on the table crisscrossed. In Chinese culture, the sign of crossing is negative, linked to the sign used when grading papers that primacy school students receive for a wrong answer.
11. Don’t dig and rummage the food to look for what you want with chopsticks, although hot pot is the exception excused.
12. Do not drop food and liquid from your chopsticks to the table.
Photo: alamodestuff and lauritadianita (flickr)