Edited by D. J. Kremer
Hanover House, 1959
Eight color plates and
seven line drawings
(Next post on Wednesday: Seong Moy’s “Dream of the Red Chamber”)
… Much misunderstanding prevails as to the use of the chopsticks, many persons supposing that they are held one in each hand, after the manner of knives and forks in Europe. These curious implements are both held in the right hand after the following manner. One of them is taken much as a pen is held, except that, instead of being held by the thumb and forefinger, it passes between the tips of the second and third fingers. This chopstick is always kept stationary. The second chopstick is held lightly between the thumb and forefinger, and can be worked so as to press with its tip against the point of the other, and act after the manner of pincers. …
… I took up my chopsticks, two bits of black wood about as big round as a lead pencil and twice as long, and proceeded to struggle with them. A quiet Chinaman seated at the next table with a bowl of rice in front of him perceived my difficulty and politely showed me how to use them. It is not difficult when one gets the hang of them. You must hold one rigidly, letting the upper end project over the hollow of the hand, as the average school boy holds his pen, and griping it firmly between the second joint of the thumb and the ball of the fourth finger. The other is held lightly as a good penman holds his pen, between the first and second finger and the ball of the thumb. ...
... The diner takes up with his chopsticks a slice of fish and radish and dips them in the sauce before carrying them to his mouth. Toward the end of his meal he will remove the saucer-shaped top from his rice bowl and pass it to the attendant, who will place on it usually four slices of some kind of preserved or pickled vegetable. This he will eat as a relish with his rice. The odor is strong and objectionable to foreigners, but one soon acquires a taste for it, and it becomes an indispensable table article with rice. The chopsticks are usually of wood and about ten inches long. Incased in a little paper sheath, they are placed on the table or tray with the dinner. The cheaper and commoner chopsticks given to a guest at a hotel are supposed to be used only at one meal. They are merely cedar ticks. Some of the chopsticks, however, are lacquered, and when the guest has finished eating with such a pair he wipes them on a napkin. Chopsticks like those, when used, are left in the guest’s room, to be used by him whenever he has a meal served. The chopsticks are grasped both between the thumb and index finger. The middle finger is thrust between them to form a fulcrum, and then the chopsticks are used like a tiny pair of tongs, with which morsels of food are picked up. ...
… The dinner is served upon a peculiar little tray of inlaid teakwood, and beside the dishes are the chopsticks. The Japanese chopsticks differ from those used by the Chinese. The Japanese sticks are made from ordinary pine wood, and are placed before the diner in one piece. This shows they never before have been used, and the diner tears them apart.After having once been used, the chopsticks are thrown away. ...