A Month Without a Fork
June 7, 2013 8:10 AM   Subscribe

The amenities of the modern world sometimes blind us to truths about our humanity. The internet connects us more than ever with our fellow humans, while simultaneously fomenting a sense of disconnection stronger than ever before ... Emblematic of this modern world run amok is one piece of technology that the Western world seemingly cannot do without. I am, of course, talking about the fork.

Read the manifesto, follow the burgeoning #forkfree movement on twitter

Darius Kazemi previously and previously, previously, previously
posted by memebake (78 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is particularly vicious satire.
posted by mightygodking at 8:17 AM on June 7, 2013


Because I am weird, the other day, I decided to live my life, for that day, as though I had invented the spork. I decided I would eat all my meals with it regardless of what said meal consisted of. Cereal? Spork. Yogurt? Spork. Grapes? Spork? Turkey? Spork! I pretended I was quite proud of my little utensil and that the patents had made me rich and I was some eccentric millionaire who would only eat with his own invention.

Then I saw this woman eating with a spork and asked, "You know who invented that?" She looks up, says, "No," and I chickened out and said, "Me neither."

This is how I live my life. You can live yours like you like.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:18 AM on June 7, 2013 [38 favorites]


WTF?


what the fork?


I prefer to use my hands in polite social settings where my feedbag is inappropriate.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:26 AM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I once noticed only after boarding the bus that I had neglected to pick up a fork at the deli, so I ate my coleslaw using a pencil and a toothbrush as chopsticks.
posted by Bruce H. at 8:26 AM on June 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The modern world (at least in my country) is multicultural. Using chopsticks is not a revolutionary act.

This does work quite well as satire on people trumpeting their willingness to live unplugged for a month. I sure hope it's satire.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:28 AM on June 7, 2013


My parents made me learn how to use chopsticks. Even though we're not Asian. Who's laughing now, forkocalypse !!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:32 AM on June 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Forks: what are they?
posted by kenko at 8:33 AM on June 7, 2013


I don't think he's taken it far enough. Last night I decided to try eating dinner the way my cat does. I actually said, "fuck you, utensils! You will shackle me no longer!" It was immensely satisfying. Slow, but satisfying. Also, I now understand how it is my cat always flings food far from his bowl.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:36 AM on June 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is hilarious.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:36 AM on June 7, 2013


My wife is not happy with me right now.: “Have you considered the privilege that allows you to carry out this ridiculous experiment?”

His wife is a mefite...?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


I generally try to avoid getting my hands messy when eating as much as possible, so any and all utensils are fair game as long as they get the job done. Chopsticks for bone-in chicken wings and ribs, knife and fork for pizza, etc.
posted by kmz at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2013


How does he comb his hair without his dinglehopper?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:40 AM on June 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Rise of the Fork - "Knives and spoons are ancient. But we’ve only been eating with forks for a few centuries"

it's Slate, buts its worth it for the St. Peter Damian quote:
[S]uch was the luxury of her habits … [that] she deigned not to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:43 AM on June 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


...Forks trade the intimacy and richness of eating from a trough, for a detached, technologically-mediated experience...
posted by memebake at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2013


This satire has given me the novel experience of being the humourless prig who think this type of thing is no laughing matter, goddammit. My petard, she is hoist. I will bottle my usual rant about Facebook, privacy, neuroscience and the Pavlovian delights of the interwebs and tip my cap.
posted by Diablevert at 8:50 AM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I must admit, I tend to grow frustrated with my fork and knife, and eat with my hands. Living alone is awesome.
posted by windykites at 8:52 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find this dumb. But I come from a culture where we eat with our hands. So I'm unimpressed and embarrassed for him.
posted by discopolo at 8:53 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go fork yourselves.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because I am weird, the other day, I decided to live my life, for that day, as though I had invented the spork. I decided I would eat all my meals with it regardless of what said meal consisted of. Cereal? Spork. Yogurt? Spork. Grapes? Spork? Turkey? Spork! I pretended I was quite proud of my little utensil and that the patents had made me rich and I was some eccentric millionaire who would only eat with his own invention.

I hope it's either a reusable spork or recyclable spork.
posted by discopolo at 8:56 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Knives and spoons are ancient. But we’ve only been eating with forks for a few centuries

One of my earliest "mind blown" memories was learning this fact in grade school.
posted by grog at 8:57 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The Fork Free Movement began its "on the road" campaign lively enough, the radio playing loud finger-licking themed anthems, and supplies stacked in the back of the van, nary one of them which required the application of fork to food to mouth. Two minutes down the road, the van came to a screeching halt, and there it remained for hours until the police called in a tow truck, which after lifting the immobile vehicle up, chose to take the right lane at the fork in the road, and proceeded on its way." -excerpt from A Tale of Three Prongs: The History of the Fork Free Movement.


While I freely grant there are foods which do not necessitate the application of utensils, I shall live and die by my fork.
posted by Atreides at 9:02 AM on June 7, 2013


> Knives and spoons are ancient. But we’ve only been eating with forks for a few centuries

What is a fork though, really? Isn't it basically just a crappy knife with more points? That's why I eat all my food using a trident.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:04 AM on June 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Knives and spoons are ancient. But we’ve only been eating with forks for a few centuries

One of my earliest "mind blown" memories was learning this fact in grade school.


Emphasis on the WE! The Chinese gave them up while WE were still living in holes in the ground, the Byzantines were using fine silver ones by the time the Western Romans were making US stop painting our faces blue, and the Persians were perfecting them on silk tuffets while the Vikings were sewing their ginger genes across the Isles and burning monasteries.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:07 AM on June 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


The Chinese gave them up while WE were still living in holes in the ground

Wait, really? Why would you go from forks to chopsticks?!

why
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:14 AM on June 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


What is a fork though, really? Isn't it basically just a crappy knife with more points? That's why I eat all my food using a trident.

Idea! Poseidon's Table, a kitschy seafood restaurant that only serves whole sea creatures speared on huge garish golden tridents, no conventional flatware or dinnerware allowed. The maître d' wears an old-timey deep sea diving suit.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:22 AM on June 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like chopsticks better, though I still occasionally fling my food halfway across my plate with an accidental twist. Unfortunately, I need a knife and fork to cut up my chunky American steak in order to eat it.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:29 AM on June 7, 2013


I like chopsticks better, though I still occasionally fling my food halfway across my plate with an accidental twist. Unfortunately, I need a knife and fork to cut up my chunky American steak in order to eat it.

You could always stab it with the chopstick, hoist it high, and dine with the grace that accompanies all meat on sticks meals. (Is this a Forkist Philosophical Approach?)
posted by Atreides at 9:39 AM on June 7, 2013


Wait, really? Why would you go from forks to chopsticks?!

why


Uh, because only uncivilized barbarians stab their food.

If I could, I would eat everything using small pieces of freshly baked naan.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:47 AM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chopsticks are better than forks for noodle soups and worse for just about everything else. Still, I've achieved a level of respectable proficiency with chopsticks because it was embarrassing to have to ask for a fork (or, worse, be given one without asking) when I was the One White Guy In The Chinese Restaurant when my (half-Chinese) wife and I ate with her father's family.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


burritos for a month? yes please!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cars clog our streets and our air. Electricity is an unwelcome interloper, extending the work day until well beyond sunset. Running water binds us to the tyranny of the tap. The hammer introduces a myopic nail-tunnel-vision.

Heh. Someone would like to be published in McSweeneys.
posted by aught at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hilarious. I'm so sick of the technophobic grumbling about smartphones and the Internet.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:50 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not really getting why this is supposed to be so funny, but (at the risk of being po faced), I haven't used a fork in a couple of days — I used tortilla chips last night, night before I had pizza and tonight I'm gonna probably have Chinese or maybe some Thai soup. As for the longest time without, well, probably the month I spent with my brother in Korea.
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Using chopsticks is not a revolutionary act.

It surely is when I see someone using them to eat curry in a Thai restaurant.

And please, let us have an end to this business of rubbing wooden/bamboo chopsticks together before using them. At least in Japan, this is a faux pas.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:58 AM on June 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Chopsticks are better than forks for noodle soups

Are they? Neither allows the consumption of broth, and I'd much rather twine noodles neatly around a fork than lift a mass of uncertain length from the bowl with chopsticks. If you're just going to put the bowl to your lips and shovel shit in, a fork works equally well.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:07 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neither allows the consumption of broth

One consumes a bit of the broth with each bite of the noodles, often assisted with a spoon to hold each bite as depicted here. Based on my experience in Asia, most people left the rest of the broth in the bowl, although this is by no means universal. (you can follow the pictures for an example). Remarks about salt content are pretty common explanations for leaving it behind.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:19 AM on June 7, 2013


klangklangston: I'm not really getting why this is supposed to be so funny

Its a satire on people who give up the internet or smartphones and then blog about it
posted by memebake at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


And please, let us have an end to this business of rubbing wooden/bamboo chopsticks together before using them. At least in Japan, this is a faux pas.


I was just thinking about this the other day whilst out for sushi. Although I know this is a faux pas, I still have trouble not "cleaning" the wood shards from the sticks. I suppose if they would supply chopsticks that weren't stuck together I would have less cause to clean them. Now that I write this down, it sounds like I'm eating at the wrong places.


I happily eat without forks as often as possible. Hands or sticks are much easier. As for noodle soup, I definitely prefer chopsticks.
posted by blurker at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2013


In my wild college days, my friend and I called highlighters veritable forks, and we would eat hummus using the non-highlighting ends.

This is how I live my life. You can live yours like you like.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:45 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


One consumes a bit of the broth with each bite of the noodles, often assisted with a spoon to hold each bite as depicted here.

Ah, ha. So that's what those are for. Are you supposed to slurp the broth from them? They always seemed too big for that.

Hands or sticks are much easier.

Lunacy (well, not the hands bit).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2013


Chopsticks 4lyfe.
posted by kmz at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2013


> And please, let us have an end to this business of rubbing wooden/bamboo chopsticks together before using them. At least in Japan, this is a faux pas.

It is? Weird, my Japanese SIL does this all the time. Although she is the Japanese equivalent of a redneck, so that might make sense. Also, she routinely eats with those incredibly cheap wooden chopsticks that you can steal magically obtain by the dozen from faux-chinese places.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:00 AM on June 7, 2013


"It surely is when I see someone using them to eat curry in a Thai restaurant."

Because Thais don't really use chopsticks?

And please, let us have an end to this business of rubbing wooden/bamboo chopsticks together before using them. At least in Japan, this is a faux pas.

It's to get the splinters off the cheap ones.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on June 7, 2013


I've been bringing packed lunches to work recently, and have found that chopsticks are most excellent utensils for eating salads. They are also really compact and easy to store. And wash.

As for noodles... I guess its just what you're used to, but I find it a lot easier to eat with chopsticks. The broth can be drunk by raising the bowl to your mouth; that's so much more satisfying than whatever measly amount you can scoop up with a spoon.
posted by destrius at 11:08 AM on June 7, 2013


I'm just going to eat any and all food with a Bowie knife from now on.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:23 AM on June 7, 2013




You know what else chopsticks are great for? Salad. Seriously. Try it.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:18 PM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


And please, let us have an end to this business of rubbing wooden/bamboo chopsticks together before using them. At least in Japan, this is a faux pas.

I once read a website denouncing the uncouth manners of modern chopsticks users, and whining that hashi etiquette has been on the decline since the good old days of the Heian era. How the hell would anyone know that? I read his 30 or 40 points of etiquette and immediately made an effort to forget them. But then, most nihonjin that see my table manners, wonder why I seem like a nihonjin, albeit a polite country bumpkin nihonjin. At least that's better than the usual comments that express astonishment that I know how to use hashi at all (ojouzu desune!). I guess I unconsciously adopted the local mannerisms, when I first lived in Japan, out in the boonies with a bunch of bumpkins. I don't know how to get rid of these habits since I don't know what they are and they can't really put a finger on it either.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:25 PM on June 7, 2013


When we go out for sushi or Szechuan, I actually bring my own chopsticks with me - not to be snobby or pretentious, or anything - i just hate the mouthfeel of those disposable ones.

I actually must eat sushi and Szechuan as well as other Asian cuisines with chopsticks - it's probably a mind game, because as Tanizaki alluded to, Thai food is eaten with a spoon and a fork. And I don't eat Indian with my hands, although I should try!

I also hear that it's rude to stick and leave your chopsticks in the rice. If you're taking a break, put them down.

I must eat dessert with a fork, however.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2013


the thing that gets me in the West, is the transfer of the knife + fork cutlery combo to cuisines that use a lot of rice or beans or noodles eg Asian/Mexican. Western Thai restaurants have the right idea of insisting on being sensible enough to present their dishes with forks and spoons, just like it would be back home and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Of course, personally to me, the most useful thing in my handbag is my set of chopsticks that comes in their own carry-on cases (which you can get in those convenient 100Yen Japanese shops).
posted by cendawanita at 1:00 PM on June 7, 2013


Although I know this is a faux pas, I still have trouble not "cleaning" the wood shards from the sticks. I suppose if they would supply chopsticks that weren't stuck together I would have less cause to clean them. Now that I write this down, it sounds like I'm eating at the wrong places.

A few people have said this practice is to remove splinters. After thousands of meals eaten with such chopsticks, I am still waiting to meet the person who got a splinter from them. Unless you hold your chopsticks in a very odd way, your hand should not be in contact with the surfaces that might have any splinters. Frankly, I think rubbing would aggravate any "splinters" issue. And, the reason the chopsticks are stuck together is so that you know they have not been used before. They are not just provided in cheap eateries in Japan.

But yes, rubbing them together comes off as striking a fork and knive together before a meal like a character in an old-time cartoon. It is also a good way to let whomever is serving you know that they provide shoddy chopsticks. I have heard a theory that the practice was started by Japanese before the war in imitation of Charlies Chaplin eating a boot in The Gold Rush but I think the story is likely apocryphal.

Are you supposed to slurp the broth from them?

That is pretty common, yes. But, like I said, people usually don't consume all the leftover broth. The main use is to separate each bite, although I tend not to do the spoon (called a renge, for those who might be interested). This is one of those things we people will disagree like others might go back and forth about how to prepare a hamburger or if ketchup is allowed on a hot dog.

I actually must eat sushi and Szechuan as well as other Asian cuisines with chopsticks

You will find that in Japan, it is standard to eat sushi with hands, which likely comes from its historical background as fast food. But, a lot of people use chopsticks, too. It's not an etiquette issue and it's another one of those areas where people will good-naturedly quibble about which way is better.

I also hear that it's rude to stick and leave your chopsticks in the rice.

Yes, that is a rather bad thing to do. The reason is because this is how rice is offered at the altar in a memorial service, such as is depicted here. It is considered bad form to make the people around you think of such a thing. If you need to put them down, you can use the provided chopstick rest or fold your own out of the paper sleeve that held the disposable ones.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:34 PM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




But yes, rubbing them together comes off as striking a fork and knive together before a meal like a character in an old-time cartoon. It is also a good way to let whomever is serving you know that they provide shoddy chopsticks.

Then I suppose I should do that a LOT here in the US. Proper waribashi are almost nonexistent. Around here, they think this is a proper waribashi. I don't know what the hell that is supposed to be, they are round and pointy and pretty much useless. What am I supposed to do with that, stab something? This is a proper waribashi.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2013


I must eat dessert with a fork, however.

My wife's family does this. Doesn't matter what the desert is, you get a fork. Jello? Fork. Pudding? fork. I still have nightmares about the time we brought flan over. So much wasted sauce...

On the other hand, my wife diverted near riot at a gathering of my family recently, we ran out of spoons and somebody had to eat cake and ice-cream with a fork.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:22 PM on June 7, 2013


Unless you hold your chopsticks in a very odd way, your hand should not be in contact with the surfaces that might have any splinters.

It's not splinters in my hands, it's splinters in the business end; and rubbing them together is like sandpaper and makes the split bits come off. I ate sushi lunch with crummy chopsticks today and failed to do the rubbing; I got some wooden splinter with my avocado roll. I then wised up and just used my hands.

I'll give you that rubbing them together is declasse. But I'm still going to do it.
posted by holyrood at 4:28 PM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not splinters in my hands, it's splinters in the business end

If by "the business end" you mean the end that holds and comes in contact with the food, I am sorry to say that you have been holding your chopsticks backwards.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:42 PM on June 7, 2013


I don't know what the hell that is supposed to be, they are round and pointy and pretty much useless. What am I supposed to do with that, stab something?

Japanese chopsticks are pointed at the end. This is how every non-disposable pair of Japanese chopsticks is.

Of the links you provided, I actually prefer the bamboo pointed ones to the wooden flat waribashi. 蓼食う虫も好き好きやろう。
posted by Tanizaki at 5:46 PM on June 7, 2013


The really cheap places give out chopsticks that are connected all the way down, Tanizaki. More like a wooden piece with a groove carved down the middle to facilitate breaking in half. If you have never been to really really really cheap Chinese takeout in America, you might not have seen this style of chopstick.
posted by holyrood at 6:59 PM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This was probably the most useful purchase I've ever made on Amazon.
posted by rifflesby at 11:26 PM on June 7, 2013


Darius Kazemi: Greatly enjoying how this Metafilter thread about Month Without a Fork is mostly just people arguing about chopsticks
: )
posted by memebake at 3:34 AM on June 8, 2013


My husband eats everything with a spoon. If it needs to be cut up, he'll use a fork and knife but otherwise? Pasta? Spoon. Curry? Spoon. His rationale is that it optimizes eating, allowing him to get more food in his mouth at once.

I think it makes him look a bit like a six year old, but I hand him his dinner each night with a spoon nonetheless.
posted by sonika at 4:41 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every dish, regardless of its place of origin, should be served on injera and eaten Ethiopian-style.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:56 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The really cheap places give out chopsticks that are connected all the way down, Tanizaki.

Thank you for explaining. I do not believe I have ever encountered those before.

I can second the hollow metal chopsticks that rifflesby linked. Although they are Japanese, metal is not the norm in Japan. Most are wood/bamboo or plastic. There does seem to be a trend in Japan these days on people carrying their own chopsticks to reduce the use of disposable chopsticks.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:38 AM on June 8, 2013


I moved to France from the US a few years ago, and prior to moving here I spent several months re-educating myself to eat properly with a fork and knife, rather than hacking away at everything with just my fork, American style. It made for a lot of weird encounters with my co-workers and business partners at lunches, because they all wondered why I was eating everything with a knife too, etc.

Now that I'm here and I eat properly, it is always trippy when I meet up with Americans (including my family when they visit) because I can't help but notice how almost everyone just uses a fork to chop away at everything, ignoring the knife that is laying next to their plate.

I realize that in America we are taught, at times, to eat with knives properly, but once I realized the difference in table manners I see it everywhere now. Kind of like when you learn about fonts or kerning and so on.

The guy spending a month eating without a fork, but not just using chopsticks like a normal person might... he just sounds like a pretentious twat. I don't at all understand if he's trying to be funny or just be stupid, but his wife is 100% correct.
posted by EricGjerde at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not sure where in America it would be considered normal to just use chopsticks in place of a fork for whatever food you happen to be eating (excluding various Chinatowns, of course). I also can't help but wonder what foods all these legions of Americans you know are "hacking" at with their forks. If it is a soft food, what is wrong with parting it with the instrument you have in your hand? This puts me in mind of another way that forks are superior to chopsticks. There have been many times I've been confronted with a piece of food (beef, say, at a hot pot place) that is really just too big to be eaten in one comfortable (or perhaps strictly polite) bite. Dealing with this with a fork would be simple. With chopsticks it is a pain in the ass.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:15 PM on June 8, 2013


There have been many times I've been confronted with a piece of food (beef, say, at a hot pot place) that is really just too big to be eaten in one comfortable (or perhaps strictly polite) bite. Dealing with this with a fork would be simple. With chopsticks it is a pain in the ass.

I don't see the problem, when you have something thin and floppy like the beef in guydon, you just fold it and grab it. But I do really like the Japanese style of serving larger, tougher cuts of meat like steak cut into easily handled slices. Now I do this all the time, even when eating with a fork.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:58 PM on June 8, 2013


I also can't help but wonder what foods all these legions of Americans you know are "hacking" at with their forks.

I do this pretty regularly, almost always with starches: baked potatoes, pasta, open face sandwiches. Of course, this is at home, where I know my dishes don't make that horrible screeching sound you sometimes get if you try it. I find table manners absolutely fascinating, because they're the perfect blend of etiquette that mainly as a cultural marker, and etiquette as practical ways of making peoples' eating experiences more pleasant. This one maybe functions as both.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:11 PM on June 8, 2013


There have been many times I've been confronted with a piece of food (beef, say, at a hot pot place) that is really just too big to be eaten in one comfortable (or perhaps strictly polite) bite. Dealing with this with a fork would be simple. With chopsticks it is a pain in the ass.

It is easy. Act as if the chopsticks are your fingers. Take a bite from the piece while holding it with the chopsticks, then have a second bite. It is perfectly acceptable to put the piece of food down on your plate in the meantime. Eating a whole fish with chopsticks is no problem, either. The flesh is easily separated from the bones.

I agree that you cannot use them wherever you would use a fork. It would be stupid to use them for a steak, for example. Western restaurants in Japan have knives and forks.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2013


Take a bite from the piece while holding it with the chopsticks, then have a second bite.

Ah. See, I think in America (certainly in the parts and with the people I have been) this would be considered rather impolite, or at least childish. Hilarious.

Also, pasta and baked potato are soft foods. I have never witnessed someone using a knife on pasta and would probably find it weird if I did.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:56 PM on June 8, 2013


Thais eat with spoon and fork because one of their kings, I think Rama V, was keen on adopting Western habits. It's relatively recent.

And they still use chopsticks and a spoon for noodle soup, which they eat all the time. And sticky rice requires no utensils as the rice itself is the utensil.
posted by seemoreglass at 6:20 PM on June 8, 2013


I learned the "rubbing cheap waribashi together to remove splinters" thing from people here in Japan, although I suppose maybe they were just uncouth. Though I did learn that it's not polite/couth to do the rubbing above the table, because you'd drop your splinters onto your food. Instead, if they're the shitty splintery type, you rub them together underneath the table.

For reference (especially since Charlie Don't Surf has identified really nice waribashi as improper and useless), here is a quick rundown of waribashi in Japan.

Normal chopsticks

Note that, unlike Chinese chopsticks, the ends are pointed.

Waribashi

The topmost and bottommost ones are standard waribashi. Clear groove, all the way up. Not nice, not shitty. Polishing optional.

The third one down are kinda nice waribashi. Pointed, just like real chopsticks. Also, clearly splinter-free. Polishing would be...weird.

The second and fourth are shitty waribashi. Polishing is common.
posted by Bugbread at 12:22 PM on June 9, 2013


Also (and I feel kinda bad for chuckling at them, because I did the same thing when I first came to Japan), I am still amused when my parents come visit me in Japan and eat everything with chopsticks. "No, mom, fried rice is hard to eat well with chopsticks. Japanese use spoons." "No, dad, curry and rice is pretty much impossible to eat with chopsticks. They didn't give you a spoon because you're a foreigner, they gave you a spoon because that's what you eat curry and rice with in Japan."
posted by Bugbread at 12:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The second and fourth are shitty waribashi. Polishing is common.

The fourth (the second from the bottom) is the nicest of the five pair depicted. That's what high-end restaurants use, as noted in the caption. They are high quality wood, usually sugi, and break very cleanly. It is not possible to see in that photo, but they actually are separated for about 80% of their length. The two halves fit together so nicely (again, high quality) that the seam does not appear in the photo or at first glance. And, they break *very* cleanly.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2013


You're right, I just did a google image search and eyeballed the results, I didn't read what it actually said. I should have said that the fourth (second from the bottom) looks like the shitty waribashi people polish.
posted by Bugbread at 10:01 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note that, unlike Chinese chopsticks, the ends are pointed.

Seeing as how there's a billion and a half of them, not counting the Taiwanese and not to mention all the southeast asians that use the "Chinese" ones too, wouldn't that make the Japanese pointy ones the outliers and not "normal"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:42 AM on June 10, 2013


The fourth (the second from the bottom) is the nicest of the five pair depicted.

LOL I actually saw that pic when I was googling for an illustration of cheap waribashi. But I didn't link to it because I thought nobody could possibly be interested in going into that sort of detail. I'd probably pick the fourth type too, but I also like the ultracheap first one.

I was just at a sushi place a couple of days ago, I got the cheap hashi I like. And oddly enough, when I broke them apart, the back end of one stick split, kind of like if you had put a wedge in the back and tried to split it longitudinally again. It actually curled outwards. I thought that was hilarious. I am sure there is an obscure Japanese term for this phenomenon, but I'm not sure if I want to know it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2013


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "Seeing as how there's a billion and a half of them, not counting the Taiwanese and not to mention all the southeast asians that use the "Chinese" ones too, wouldn't that make the Japanese pointy ones the outliers and not "normal"?"

Perhaps I was unclear. We were talking about waribashi, a Japanese term. Charlie Don't Surf said some waribashi were "round and pointy and pretty much useless", and I was using the word "normal" as an antonym for "wari-bashi". Both terms were meant to be understood within the context of "we are talking about Japanese chopsticks right here in this particular tangent of the thread".
posted by Bugbread at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


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