Modern chopsticks for the digitally imbecilic

tukaani.jpg

I do not admire the elegance, the spirituality, the zen of the chopstick ritual. The fork is the ultimate culmination of food-grabbing technology: it is a chopstick with three smaller chopsticks at the end, and you do not have to learn a Crane-style digital kung fu gesture to use them.

Still, I also love sushi, and when I ask for a fork at a sushi restaurant, I am often treated by my friends like a chest-thumping, mouth-breathing pleb. To plunge those chopsticks through their contemptuous eyes! Instead, I blush, start stuttering and spend the entire meal choking down my own self-loathing. It often tastes like horseradish, seaweed, soy sauce and saki.

So I like these modern chopsticks designed by Lincoln Kayiwa. Even an uncouth moron like me can pick up food with them. They’re attractive. And if my friends still give me guff? The perfect eye gougers.

TUKAANI, a modern chopstick by Lincoln Kayiwa [Yanko]

This entry was posted in chopstick and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Modern chopsticks for the digitally imbecilic

  1. Clay says:

    This calls for the greatest video on sushi etiquette ever:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b75cl4-qRE

  2. GregLondon says:

    choking down my own self-loathing. It often tastes like horseradish, seaweed, soy sauce and saki.

    My self loathing tastes like overcooked spinach. I wish I could get a little soy sauce in there to give it some flavor…

  3. Daemon says:

    You know.. took me all of about 2 minutes to figure out how to eat with chopsticks. Without instruction. These things are an ugly way of saying “i have the manual dexterity of an infant”

  4. dculberson says:

    Jim Rizzo, your comment comes off as the kind of asshattery that causes certain people to refuse to remove their shoes when entering a temple.

    And… If there is such a thing as a “chopstick culture,” there’s plenty of it in the US. It might not be in your house, but that doesn’t mean it’s not in your neighbor’s house.

    America = melting pot, not some fork-only protestant-only whitebreadland.

    Oh, and John’s refusal to use chopsticks would only come off as “American” to someone that doesn’t realize he’s in Germany.

  5. eustace says:

    I had hoped that chopstick skills were like bicycle riding – but no! After a few years ‘stickless I had to learn again almost from scratch.
    CLAY – thx for link. Coffeesprayed my keyboard.

  6. Halloween Jack says:

    The model that they show using these things looks like she was genetically engineered to scare small children.

  7. semiotix says:

    I just knew this innocuous gadget thread was going to be a hotbed of snobbery, humiliated rage, and veiled and unveiled accusations of racism. I didn’t think we’d get there so few posts, though. Yay!

    As for me, I’m back on the gamely-dropping-things-with-chopsticks-thrice-a-year bandwagon, although I admit I went through a stubborn fork-using phase after an incident about ten years ago. My party of eight had gone into a Japanese restaurant for a late lunch, and we were the only customers. Halfway through, the sweet little old lady who had taken our orders stormed up to me doing a pretty good imitation of the “angry Kabuki face” and yanked the chopsticks out of my hand. She handed me a fork and said, with perfect contempt, “It’s easier.”

  8. daveymcwavey says:

    Alternatively theres always the Rookie Stix for the maladroit..

    http://www.debenhams.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10001_10001_17976_460669_-1

  9. Takuan says:

    terrific link Clay! Haven’t laughed so hard since the German forklift training video!

  10. Chevan says:

    #21 – “So I’m sorry, but it sounds like you are just trying to find every excuse you can to keep your world as unchanging as possible. Folks like you are generally pretty sad when they realize this just won’t happen.”

    His arthritis is not your arthritis is not the arthritis of the man down the street.

    The same biology that gives us different skin tones, mental abilities, and heights also gives us different responses to sickness, disease, and deterioration.

    It’s awesome that you managed to overcome your arthritis, but if he says his arthritis prevents him from using chopsticks, I’m inclined to believe him. They’re his hands and he’s the one feeling the pain. He is the only person with any idea of what he can and can’t do.

  11. Anonymous says:

    #6 – I eat my steaks that way.

  12. dainel says:

    #12 Lydia9, I find eating with chopsticks to be easier than eating with a fork and knife.

    Spoon and fork is frequently better than chopsticks. Especially when eating things like rice or beans. Some places, vegetables are frequently chopped too small to use chopsticks on. Usually, I dispense with the fork and just use single spoon.

  13. Clif Marsiglio says:

    @Jim

    “And I have arthritis in my hands. Chopsticks and arthritis don’t mix… even if I have to use the fake tong-like chopsticks that are attached at the top.”

    I’ve had arthritis for about 10 years. Bad enough that I was in a wheelchair for a while and now take weekly injections to function in life. Using chopsticks was one of the things that I did to regain normalcy in my life and it was amazing how quickly my fingers were able to re-adapt to them…was great to get the fine motorskills tuned up as well.

    Then again, I go to my clinic these days and see the same people I did 10 years ago, and my doc tells me that technically my disease is further progressed than theirs, but they are still limping along with their excuses instead of getting on with their lives.

    It is all in what you want out of life and the effort you put into it. So I’m sorry, but it sounds like you are just trying to find every excuse you can to keep your world as unchanging as possible. Folks like you are generally pretty sad when they realize this just won’t happen.

  14. futwick says:

    The fork is a beautiful piece of precision engineering and design.

    To criticise someone for using a fork rather than chopsticks is to put appearances before practicality. Like a Mac fanboy. And no-one likes them.

  15. royaltrux says:

    Yay for efficiency! Why not use a small shovel? It’s a timed contest, right?

  16. zuzu says:

    America = melting pot,

    America = two continents, actually.

    not some fork-only protestant-only whitebreadland.

    It’s spelled “Jesusland“, also known as “middle-America” (as in “middle-ages“). Canyoneroooo!

    I’m in agreement with everyone who says “just eat it with your fingers”, if you’re too feeble to learn how to use chopsticks.

  17. mujadaddy says:

    Dude, eat the sushi with your fingers.

    That’ll show ‘em. (But seriously, eat it with your fingers if you can’t handle the ‘sticks.)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Sake. The Japanese don’t drink deceased British writers.

  19. Takuan says:

    as the tale goes, the progenitors of the yakuza were gamblers and stall-keeper petty merchants/hucksters. The gamblers used cards. Snacking while getting pissed always led to messy cards. I suppose even then that amounted to marking and led in turn to assorted tattooed limbs strewn about. Hence the nori wrap. Eat and play with clean fingers. Until the evil perversion of the inside out roll came along anyway.

  20. consideredopinion says:

    Two straight sticks need no improvement. If there is any difficult, it’s up to the user to learn how to use them properly.

  21. Takuan says:

    utensils are not really needed you know
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j9HZFxgRAU

  22. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Chow Tongs!

  23. mgfarrelly says:

    John:

    Eating sushi, especially sashimi, with a fork isn’t just gauche, it’s also affecting the flavor. Metal on raw fish is changing the taste, even in that brief instant between plate and maw. Sushi’s a delicate thing.

    You’d almost be better off bringing in your own plastic utensils. A little…weird, but better than metal on raw tuna.

  24. Logotu says:

    #16 Tensegrity – I tend to eat spaghetti with chopsticks; if they’re good enough for lo-mein, why not?

  25. Joel Johnson says:

    Or he could just buck up and learn how to use chopsticks.

  26. Anonymous says:

    @#48 …and nor are they in the habit of collecting printed editions of the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayam.

    ^most obscure joke ever!

  27. gobo says:

    I think it was Douglas Adams who said, “If a billion and a half people in Asia can eat all their meals with two sticks, so can you.”

    That said, #1 is right. It’s perfectly polite to eat sushi with your fingers, and nigiri is *supposed* to be eaten that way. Use three fingers, pick it up by the far end, flip it upside down so the fish is on bottom, dip the fish in soy sauce, and shovel it in.

    If your friends stare at you, just roll your eyes and make fun of them for eating it with chopsticks while the waitstaff laughs.

  28. Takuan says:

    oh, and learn Japanese funerary customs to understand not to serve rice(or other food)with chopsticks stabbed into it, or for the passing of food to another persons pair.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Having spent years studying Japanese and Japanese culture as well as spending many months in Japan over the course of those years, I mus tpoint out that poking your food with a fork (or chopsticks) isn’t simply something your friends are being snooty about but rather it’s actually cultural insensitivity. (it’s also a very long sentence) In Japanese culture is it quite rude to jab one’s food. It would be akin to licking the top of a ketchup bottle or eating a steak simply by spearing it with your knife and eating it like a medieval turkey leg.

    As #5 states, it is perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with one’s fingers and in higher class restaurants, it’s expected. His advice is spot on.

    Of course, you could always just toss it in the air and catch it with your mouth…

    -JT

  30. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    oh for gods sake, just sit down with a couple of pens and figure it out. i did this when i was 7 and it only took me a couple of minutes. yes forks are more efficient, but you’ll look like a twat if you ask for one in an asian food resturant.

  31. Tommy says:

    Food meant to be eaten with chopsticks is usually easier to eat with chopsticks, once you take the time to learn to use them. (Which, really, takes all of 5 minutes. Here’s a hint, you only move one of the sticks.)

  32. LogrusZed says:

    Eating food with a fork which it meant to be eaten with chop-sticks is like bowling with the bumpers down.

    Yea, it really doesn’t hurt anyone else but unless you’re a handy-capable retard or something you should be ashamed to be doing it.

    Besides, chop-sticks usually slow you down, help you appreciate the meal and digest it.

  33. Tensegrity says:

    @5 & 6–My understanding is that sushi eating etiquette varies with the region of Japan, but eating with one’s fingers has become a generally acceptable practice.

    That being said, I can perhaps see the utility of these chopsticks say for people with arthritis or some other hand issues. They’ve made brightly colored ones for children for a while now, but it’s unfair to saddle people with physical challenges with fisher-price utensils.

  34. dccarles says:

    I have a confession.
    I don’t like chopsticks. I can use them, and have many times, but I never have much strength or precision in the grip. After ten minutes or so, an ache begins to build between across the phalanges between my thumb and forefinger.

    I’ve always had poor manual dexterity. My printing looks like the dying throes of many tiny worms; never mind my handwriting. Reading anything I’ve written is a challenge similar to deciphering Linear B, and the reader is often led to surmise that I’ve never been told what the thin blue lines on the paper are for, exactly.

    I have horrible, mind-searing memories of a special ed teacher laughing at me as I tried to shuffle a deck of cards. Even today I regard people who can twirl a pen around their thumb as some kind of ubersmenchen I can never hope to emulate.

    I don’t think forks are necessarily superior to chopsticks. I’m not culturally ‘insensitive’. But the opinion of food snobs is just not valuable enough to me to give up my fork.

    –Devin

  35. Mister N says:

    ditto #4, suggestion: practice with a bean. At the beginning you might get frustrated but then when you try to grab sushi it’ll be a cake walk after the bean practice.

  36. Anonymous says:

    <pedantry poorly disguised as humorous observation>
    It’s funny how people reverse engineer language sometimes. Japanese rice wine is sake, pronounced saw-kay. After years of mispronouncing it as saw-key, somebody somewhere realized that an “e” in romanized Japanese sounds like “ay” and an “i” sounds like “ee”. These folks, instead of correcting their pronunciation, have apparently changed their preferred spelling of sake to match their original mispronunciation. So you still hear “sawkey” instead of “sawkay” but see it written “saki” more and more often.

    </pedantry poorly disguised as humorous observation>

  37. Agent 86 says:

    Clay, is there going to be a test on that later? I need to break out my Japanese cassettes!

  38. airship says:

    I used to use chopsticks, but thanks to diabetes I’ve lost muscle mass and nerve control in my hands. I’ve looked for the springy bamboo versions for quite awhile so I can get back to it. Chinese food just isn’t the same off of a fork. :(

  39. zuzu says:

    Yay for efficiency! Why not use a small shovel? It’s a timed contest, right?

    Bart: If you really wanted us to be neater, you’d serve us out of one long bowl.

    Marge: You’re talking about a trough. We’re not going to eat from a trough. And another thing, it’s only 5:15. Why are you in your underwear?

    Bart: Hey, this ain’t the Ritz.

  40. jeshii says:

    Chopsticks aren’t that hard. Seriously, try holding them between different fingers than is “correct.” It took me a long time to realize this, but seriously, chopsticks are the best utensils ever once you get the hang of it.

  41. Lydia9 says:

    Um, I grew up in Buffalo, and I find eating with chopsticks to be easier than eating with a fork and knife. I lived in SE Asia for a while, and also liked being allowed to eat with my hands. Well, with one of them anyway.

    I refusing to learn to use chopsticks is neither here nor there (I assume you’ve learned to hold a pen, use a key, and dare I say it, a fork, all skills that use the same set of muscles) but bragging about it seems a little, well, American.

  42. Jim Rizzo says:

    You know… chopsticks are pointless. I don’t care if it’s culturally insensitive. If the people who open the sushi places in the US really care, they’re in the US. We don’t have a culture of chopsticks.

    I find it amusing to watch the people who think they’re greater than thou walk into an asian restaurant and ask for chopsticks (even when the restaurant serves pefectly authentic cuisine… they realize that the fork is far superior to the chopsticks).

    Chinese food tastes the same off a fork as it does chopsticks. Sushi tastes the same off a fork as it does chopsticks (I don’t eat raw fish).

    What is gauche is people who look at you funny for using a fork. That’s just rude.

    I’m with you John.

    Oh, and PS… I have an Asian friend who refuses to use chopsticks because they’re just not as efficient as a fork. And I have arthritis in my hands. Chopsticks and arthritis don’t mix… even if I have to use the fake tong-like chopsticks that are attached at the top.

  43. SamF says:

    “I am often treated by my friends like a chest-thumping, mouth-breathing pleb.

    You say this as if to imply that you’re NOT a chest-thumping, mouth-breathing pleb. And yet you don’t use chopsticks. I am confused.
    :D

    I was lucky. When I was a kid, some friends of my folks ran a Japanese exchange student program. So for several years, we had a Japanese student live at our house for several weeks. They made us all sorts of delicious food, and taught my sister and I how to use chopsticks at an early age.

    Of course, once I hit puberty, I didn’t really give a damn about the chopsticks, the food, or the origami. I HAD A JAPANESE SCHOOLGIRL LIVING IN MY HOUSE!

    You know, I should see who around here runs a program like that now.

    Uh, for the cultural experience for my kids. Yeah.

  44. Futrell says:

    Based on the photos, I’m going to call these “Dong Tongs”.

  45. Toplus says:

    Well, I have lived several years in Asia and I must admit that I find now easier and more convenient to use chopsticks than fork for many dishes. However, for a steak you will always need fork and knife. The do give you fork and knife when you go to western style restaurants.

    The main point, I guess, is that Asians tend to serve food which can be easily grabbed with chopsticks. Even dishes like pork cutlets are cut from the kitchen so you don’t need to use anything but chopsticks.

    I also believe that chopsticks often allow better control over the food you are grabbing, as you do not depend on carving it. So it is not true that forks are superior tools. Of course, you need to gain a certain expertise first (not 5 minutes)
    )

  46. Michiel says:

    Although it’s a nice design, these chopsticks are nothing new.

    Children all over Asia use them, before they are able to use regular chopsticks.

  47. stratojoe says:

    So – #3. .you’re telling me that in order to not change the delicate flavor of the fish a proper sushi chef would have to use bamboo knives? I understand your point, but your argument that three or four small metal tines put through a piece of fish would change the flavor more than a knife passed across its entire surface doesn’t hold water for me.

    For the record, if anyone I was with tried to pick sushi up with a fork I’d slap it right out of their fat ign’ant hand.

  48. Tensegrity says:

    @13 jim rizzo

    >We don’t have a culture of chopsticks.

    Oh really? Who is “we”?

    >they realize that the fork is far superior to the chopsticks

    Oh really?

    >I have an Asian friend

    Oh how nice.

    I also have Asian friends. And Asian relatives. And an Asian guy who looks at me when I look into a mirror. And here is my opinion: chopsticks are intended to eat asian food when it is served in an asian manner. You can ignore that if you want to but you can also use your steak knife to butter your bread, you can drink wine out of a martini glass, drive from California to NY in 1st gear because you won’t learn how to drive standard, and you can dance in the street with an American flag shoved up your ass whistling the star spangled banner. Knock yourself out. I prefer to use the intended tool for the intended purpose and to respect etiquette and customs, whether or not I was raised with those particular customs. I eat Indonesian food with a fork and spoon. I eat spaghetti with a fork and spoon. I eat lobster with the steel shell cracking thingy and a plastic bib around my neck. And I use chopsticks to eat sushi, asian noodle soup served in a bowl, and asian meals accompanied by rice in a bowl. If there is rice served on or eaten off a plate, I use a fork, because chopsticks were not designed to eat rice off of plates, they were designed for bowls.

    Anyway, with or without arthritis, you should not have to defend your fork usage to strangers. But your attitude seems to be that etiquette/custom is useless and personal choice paramount. Um, oh really?

  49. Downpressor says:

    Brownlee,

    Here in Tokyo at least, sushi is “finger food”.

    If you wanna learn how to use the sticks, I could get you a set of these http://adfny.metalgear.org/blog/main/2005/02/04#training_chopsticks

  50. neurolux says:

    @26 That’s almost identical to the Earl of Sandwich story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

More BB

Boing Boing Video

Flickr Pool

Digg

Wikipedia

Advertise

Displays ads via FM Tech

RSS and Email

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution. Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC in the United States and other countries.

FM Tech