Appropriateness of using chopsticks in an Asian restaurant

Assuming you’re a foreign devil and therefore don’t usually use chopsticks, how do you feel about their use in an Asian restaurant?

  1. I do so because it’s fun
  2. I do so because it’s appropriate
  3. I don’t do so because it’s easier to use a fork
  4. I eat everything with my hands–even soup
  5. Other

I was on a last date with a woman I knew from work and she asked me why I was using a fork, rather than chopsticks, to eat my Dragon Laxative Pork or whatever, and I answered, “For the same reason I didn’t drive here in an oxcart.” She didn’t understand what I meant until I gently explained to her that the fork was higher and better technology than chopsticks, so why wouldn’t I use it? As I said, it was a last date.

There’s nothing about being foreign that means you can’t eat certain foods (not all Asian food is properly eaten with chopsticks) with the proper utensil. The fork is neither “higher” nor “better”.

'Cause I’m way too clumsy to use sticks.

[John Wayne voice] “Careful…some of that’s gettin’ in yer mouth.”

Yeah, I have a genetic defect that renders me incapable of using chopsticks well. I can fumble around if they don’t offer me a fork… But if they see me with the chopsticks, they usually give me a fork.

I seem to recall hearing that the Chinese found western utensils barbaric and primitive when they first saw them.

It’s Confucian, IIRC. The idea is not that western utensils are somehow inherently primitive or barbaric, but that using metal, an implement of war, at the dinner table was barbaric.

:confused: Koreans have been using metal utensils for hundreds of years.

I recall a thread by a poster here a ways back. IIRC he thougtht using anything other than chopsticks was an affront to whatever country. His female date thought otherwise. But the real kicker was this was at a food court in a mall. Yeah, I am sure the employees at Chan’s Chinese Emporium at the River Garden Mall were aghast at the use of plastics sporks…

If it looks like a poll, (even a deliberately provocative poll), it goes in IMHO until an actual debate breaks out.

So moved.

I use chopsticks at Chinese restaurants that offer them (lots of Chinese restaurants in my area provide knives and forks without being asked), because it’s not that hard to use them and it’s fun to keep up the skill. I learned how to use them when I was 17 and about to go on a class trip to Chinatown (in NYC), and never have any trouble using them when the opportunity arises (the last time was probably 5 years ago).

This is my thought;
Panda Express - go for the fork, formal reastraurant - I’ll use the chopsticks because I can and it’s tradition (if I didn’t know how I’d have no problem asking for a fork though).

I don’t bother asking for a fork at a restaurant that only provides chopsticks, although if there’s a fork there I’ll use it.

The only time I think chopsticks are more useful is when I’m eating soup with long noodles.

I use a fork and spoon and knife because I never really mastered the knack of chopsticks. In most of the Asian cuisine restaurants around here, you’re given Western tableware as the default, though you can certainly ask for chopsticks. I do see other diners using them occasionally.

I spent 3 weeks in China as a tourist and got less practice with chopsticks than anticipated. Because in a number of restaurants, the minute they got a whiff of “foreigner” (pretty much immediately upon entering the premises, since I am white), the fork came out with the menu. It was sort of like trying to practice French in Montreal: you’d be ready to try, then they’d immediately sense “Anglophone” and go over to English on you, or else alter their own speech so they sounded like a Parisian French textbook for dimwits.

So, my answer: I am passable and will attempt chopsticks if offered, but since more food is likely to make it into my mouth if I have a fork or spoon, I like those more.

The basic concept seem to be confirmed here, with a bit of nuance while this seems to suggest that knives (and one assume forks used for ‘stabbing’ food) were too warlike for the dinner table.

I don’t know how authoritative either link is, but they’re pretty much in accord with what I’ve always heard.

When I was clumsier with them, I would always ask for a fork.

Now I try to make a good effort with them before forking, just because it’s fun to eat “differently” sometimes. But if the table has been set with silverware, I will use a fork.

For me, it’s not about “appropriateness” or “not appropriateness”. It’s about eating the way that’s the most comfortable.

(I love Thai food. I felt much relief when I learned that chopsticks are not the “go-to” utensil in Thailand.)

I can use chopsticks quite handily, and am proud of my skill, therefore I use them wherever provided.

I mean, why not?

On a business trip in Taiwan our guests were pleased that me and my colleague weren’t at all squicked out by a bowl of spicy baby octopus, and we ate them with chopsticks. Major brownie points.

Nope. Different technology, not “higher”.

I can eat faster with chopsticks than you can with a fork.

Foreign devil my ass.

For me, chopsticks are toys, not tools. So they’re fun to play with sometimes, but I don’t make a habit out of it. Especially since when I DO use them, I also use the bowl as a shovel. You get weird looks, holding the bowl to your face and scooping stuff in.

Also, if the rice isn’t sticky enough, fuggetaboutit!

I usually use chopsticks at a restaurant. I’m not really very artful, but I’m pretty efficient. Many years back I went to a lunch at a Japanese steak house with several other people and a Japanese immigrant. When offered, everyone except him took the chop sticks, he asked for a fork. He commented “Why are you using those things? Forks are a lot easier.”