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Learning to use chopsticks

Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
edited February 2016 in Help / Advice Forum
So recently I decided I wanted to pick up the ability to use chopsticks. I've watched several videos and read several guides but I can't manage it. What I would like to know (at the moment) is this - In all the videos I've seen the chop sticks are thick on one end and thin(ner) on the other end. The ones that I have from a local restaurant are the same thickness throughout with points on the end. Does this actually matter since no matter what I do I can't get the bottom (un-moving) chopstick to stay stable causing the top one to never line up with it.

If it ISN'T an issue, I'm going to assume my muscle memory is screwing me even more than I thought. Thanks either way!

Magus` on

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  • CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    The shape shouldn't really matter, they can be of uniform size.

    If it helps, the way I learned to use chopsticks was by starting with "training" chopsticks, that have a little guider inbetween the chopsticks to make them go the right way. Eventually you take the trainer off and you can use the chopsticks fine. I can't find the specific item that I bought, but Amazon has plenty of varieties for you to try. Most of those do appear to be geared towards children, but there are adult varieties too.

    While it doesn't seem that any rich were eaten. It definitely feels like a soup course with broth made from rich stock - bouillonaire if you will - was had.

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  • Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
    Hrm. I'll look into it. Keep practicing for muscle memory reasons. Thanks!

  • baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    Magus` wrote: »
    So recently I decided I wanted to pick up the ability to use chopsticks. I've watched several videos and read several guides but I can't manage it. What I would like to know (at the moment) is this - In all the videos I've seen the chop sticks are thick on one end and thin(ner) on the other end. The ones that I have from a local restaurant are the same thickness throughout with points on the end. Does this actually matter since no matter what I do I can't get the bottom (un-moving) chopstick to stay stable causing the top one to never line up with it.

    If it ISN'T an issue, I'm going to assume my muscle memory is screwing me even more than I thought. Thanks either way!

    Are they plastic? Plastic (or metal) chopsticks are a pain in the neck for me at times and I've been eating with chopsticks basically since I was old enough to sit up at the dinner table. Buy a pack of cheap bamboo chopsticks, pop some popcorn, eat the popcorn with the chopsticks, then graduate to slippery and heavy things. :)

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  • CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    Yeah I'll agree that plastic ones are the hardest to use. And popcorn is a great item to practice on! (plus using chopsticks keeps your hands from getting popcorn butter on them. Double win!)

    While it doesn't seem that any rich were eaten. It definitely feels like a soup course with broth made from rich stock - bouillonaire if you will - was had.

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  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    I actually taught myself using two pencils.


    But rice gets a fork. Because I'm not putting up with that noise.

    The only thing that matters, whatever they're made of, is to make sure they're spaced far enough apart so you can get the leverage to pick things up.

  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    Fancy slick chopsticks are the worst. You always want some sort of rough set, especially when learning.

    Quid
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Once you get the grip down, eating jelly beans with them is a great way to practice.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    qH4ac.gif

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    what I do is hold the bottom chopstick in the crook between my thumb and first finger, stabilized against my ring finger. Then I hold the other between my first and ring fingers and only move it.

    This is apparently not the proper way to hold chopsticks but it seems to work pretty well since evidently my thumb isn't dexterous enough to exert pressure on both at once.

    It's also important to remember that a lot of the time all you should really be doing is holding both steady and using them as a scoop; you'll have an easier time if you're only really trying to pick up bigger bits.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    There are three main styles of chopsticks that I'm aware of between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

    Chinese style chopsticks are usually longer and have blunt ends. They're going to be the easiest to practice with so long as they're made of wood.

    3YJtOtH.png?1

    I have the above and get pretty good mileage out of them though the bamboo eventually starts to come apart after multiple washings. Great for practice though since they have a rough, blunt surface.

    Japanese style chopsticks will be shorter and usually have the ends tapered down to a point.

    1hKNIEy.png?1

    They're a bit more difficult to use but as others have mentioned I find it's far more dependent on the material. If they're plastic or lacquered wood they're a pain (IMO) but plain wood ones are easier.

    Finally there's Korean chopsticks whose main feature is they're made of metal.

    RhIy18b.png?1

    The ends are usually tapered like Japanese though I've seen blunt as well. Fantastic for reusability but the metal is slippery and comparatively hard to grip stuff with.

    Basically I'd recommend getting a set of Chinese sticks for now. Amazon is good though if you live near a World Market I've found some very nice ones there that lasted a few years. But once you have the hang of it there's a variety of styles out there.

    Also, don't worry about holding them the "right" way. When I was a kid I struggled for years to try and hold them like the pictures on wrappers showed. Eventually I just sat down, fiddled with them in my hand for a bit, and figured out a way that was comfortable for me to hold and use reliably.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    what I do is hold the bottom chopstick in the crook between my thumb and first finger, stabilized against my ring finger. Then I hold the other between my first and ring fingers and only move it.

    This is apparently not the proper way to hold chopsticks but it seems to work pretty well since evidently my thumb isn't dexterous enough to exert pressure on both at once.

    It's also important to remember that a lot of the time all you should really be doing is holding both steady and using them as a scoop; you'll have an easier time if you're only really trying to pick up bigger bits.

    I think the common thing is that the bottom chopstick doesn't move

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    I actually taught myself using two pencils.


    But rice gets a fork. Because I'm not putting up with that noise.

    The only thing that matters, whatever they're made of, is to make sure they're spaced far enough apart so you can get the leverage to pick things up.

    Rice from a Chinese restaurant is usually sticky enough that chopsticks are easy.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    It's also of note that chopsticks function as a shovel. If you've ever seen someone actually eat with them in a hurry, some dishes simply require you hold the bowl up to your face, tilt it, and then use the sticks together to feed the contents over the lip. Chopstick Etiquette isn't really the same as eating with a set of 6 pieces of silverware, the politeness of slurping is a good example of that. I had to learn to use chopsticks and large wooden dowels that were essentially huge cooking chopsticks at my first job as a teenager. The boss actually would collect objects that were hard to pick up as challenges.

    Sake cups were the best imho. Start with trying to pick them up at any angle, by the lip or whatever you have to do... eventually you will be able to keep them upright without spilling the contents, then you'll be able to drink from them and set them back down then flip them over. It's actually kind of a fun challenge. As others have said though, get sticks that fit your grip and I would start with something that has texture.

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  • TNTrooperTNTrooper Registered User regular
    I thought I was the only one who ate popcorn with chopsticks.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    . Chopstick Etiquette isn't really the same as eating with a set of 6 pieces of silverware, the politeness of slurping is a good example of that.

    This is important. Don't treat them as forks. I'm competent with chopsticks, having been raised on fork and knife, and I found the hardest part is getting over the shoveling in or noodle slurping.

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  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    TNTrooper wrote: »
    I thought I was the only one who ate popcorn with chopsticks.

    zUusdeX.gif

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    TNTrooper wrote: »
    I thought I was the only one who ate popcorn with chopsticks.

    zUusdeX.gif
    As an Asian who uses chopsticks for a lot of meals, I've been using chopsticks to eat Cheetos pretty much all my life. It does indeed keep the orange crap off your fingers.

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  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    I find it much more efficient to just tip the bag straight into my mouth

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Or crush them into dust in the bag then sprinkle on ice cream.

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  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    Or crush them into dust and use them as chicken tender breading


    @Magus` if you have an Oriental Market nearby they might have beginner pairs to get you used to the hand feel. Or get a wad of paper between the two and rubber band the ends together.

    3basnids3lf9.jpg




  • Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
    I'm getting the hang of it. Hand hurts after awhile, though. I have two sets of chopsticks from the local Chinese restaurant. I believe they are the same ones being highly reviewed on Amazon and suggested in the thread.

    Also why do many things say rest the bottom stick on your ring finger? No way in hell I can keep the bottom one stable without basically death gripping it against said ring finger. Probably the same thing mentioned earlier with my thumb not being able to grip both without assistance.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Magus` wrote: »
    I'm getting the hang of it. Hand hurts after awhile, though. I have two sets of chopsticks from the local Chinese restaurant. I believe they are the same ones being highly reviewed on Amazon and suggested in the thread.

    Also why do many things say rest the bottom stick on your ring finger? No way in hell I can keep the bottom one stable without basically death gripping it against said ring finger. Probably the same thing mentioned earlier with my thumb not being able to grip both without assistance.

    It's a lot like anything. Initially you compensate for the lack of fine control with excessive force. Eventually you don't have to. I'd imagine that's why your hand hurts. Everyone knows how sore you can get death gripping a pencil while you write a few pages. As you get used to it, you'll need less and less force.

    Lovely
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    It's also of note that chopsticks function as a shovel.

    Traditional Chinese dining has everyone getting a bowl and a plate. The bowl is specifically for rice. The plate is for everything else (e.g., you put what you want from the family style dishes in the middle and put it on your plate). If you want to be "legit", you pick up what you want from your plate, put it on top of the rice on your bowl, and then just shovel it all in together. This saves you a lot of work trying to get weirdly-shaped or large pieces of food directly in your mouth with chopsticks (it happens more often than you think!).

    Nobody expects you to eat rice with chopsticks off of a plate. That's just dumb.

    A similar principle is used with noodle soup, and it's why you get such a deep spoon in Asian restaurants (think pho and won ton soup). You are either expected to put a few noodles and some food onto the spoon first, and then eat them all in one bite via the spoon (it's like a tiny bowl!), and/or slurping is totally fine and nobody cares as long as you aren't splashing everywhere because it's noodle soup and fuck if anyone can eat noodle soup without slurping.

  • manjimanji Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    It's also of note that chopsticks function as a shovel. If you've ever seen someone actually eat with them in a hurry, some dishes simply require you hold the bowl up to your face, tilt it, and then use the sticks together to feed the contents over the lip. Chopstick Etiquette isn't really the same as eating with a set of 6 pieces of silverware, the politeness of slurping is a good example of that. I had to learn to use chopsticks and large wooden dowels that were essentially huge cooking chopsticks at my first job as a teenager. The boss actually would collect objects that were hard to pick up as challenges.

    probably one of the things which most informed how i eat with chopsticks is watching toshiro mifune eating a bowl of rice in the yojimbo. granted, he's playing kind of a slob, but once i saw you could just get your bowl up to face level and shovel into your mouth the gloves were off!

  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    I actually taught myself using two pencils.


    But rice gets a fork. Because I'm not putting up with that noise.

    The only thing that matters, whatever they're made of, is to make sure they're spaced far enough apart so you can get the leverage to pick things up.

    Rice from a Chinese restaurant is usually sticky enough that chopsticks are easy.

    Yeah. But I hate plain rice and usually cut it with something. Soy sauce most commonly. And that affects how the rice sticks together.

    So, fork that.

  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    Magus` wrote: »
    I'm getting the hang of it. Hand hurts after awhile, though. I have two sets of chopsticks from the local Chinese restaurant. I believe they are the same ones being highly reviewed on Amazon and suggested in the thread.

    Also why do many things say rest the bottom stick on your ring finger? No way in hell I can keep the bottom one stable without basically death gripping it against said ring finger. Probably the same thing mentioned earlier with my thumb not being able to grip both without assistance.

    RING finger?!

    F that. I use thumb and middle finger, like I'm writing with a pen.

    3basnids3lf9.jpg




  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    Use whatever grip is comfortable.

    Quid
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Different grips work for different people. The one I see commonly suggested is this one:

    GGWf2E6.png

    And if that works for you that's great. But for me that grip is useless. I prefer to hold mine like this:

    JN5OEhQ.jpg

    Way easier for me to pick things up and hold them when I use my ring finger to manipulate the bottom stick.

  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    I use the second grip as well.

  • OrphaneOrphane A black light In the deep blue seaRegistered User regular
    TNTrooper wrote: »
    I thought I was the only one who ate popcorn with chopsticks.

    i use them for eating literally every kind of chip and/or finger food because then i don't have to wash my hands if i want to touch other things in the meantime

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Yeah, I use a pencil grip on the top chopstick and rest the other chopstick on the side of my ring fingernail. The webspace between the thumb and index finger, when leveraged against the chopstick and the ring finger, is pretty stable, and the pencil grip on top chopstick gives a lot of control and strength (same way I write with a pencil or pen, so...).

    There's no wrong way to do it, though, as long as it shoves the food in your mouth.

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  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    Cabezone wrote: »
    I use the second grip as well.

    I used to use the second grip, but eventually evolved to something like the first one.

    I agree, though. It's up to the individual to find what works for them. All hands are not the same.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    A quick FYI, if you plan on getting more chopsticks...
    * thicker chopsticks are more comfortable - I get hand cramps when using thin disposable ones for too long
    * square chopsticks are easier to control in the hand
    * bare bamboo has the most grip
    * thinner tips make it easier to pick up small objects
    * a dozen identical chopsticks are more practical than a dozen unique chopsticks
    * expensive is not better - my favorite style is the chinese square style pictured earlier, with a slightly sharper taper, that I bought for like $3 a dozen

    iTNdmYl.png
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