Coming from an Asian family, using chopsticks has never seemed foreign to me. I remember when I was little using training chopsticks, or when all else failed just taking one and stabbing all my food. Over the years I’ve gotten better at it, and can now use chopsticks with ease. When I go out to Asian restaurants with my friends, if they’re not Asian, they either don’t know how to use chopsticks or are looking to impress me and my other friends with their ability.
Recently my mom invited one of her Asian friends over and cooked an Asian meal. It was just my family and the friend, and of course when I set the table I gave everyone chopsticks and your typical silverware – fork, knife, and spoon. The main dish was a pork dish, where the meat was sliced off the bone. About halfway through the meal my mom’s friend looked at my dad, impressed by his use of chopsticks. When she pointed out that he was using them, however, we all looked around. My dad was the only one using chopsticks. The rest of us were spearing our pork with a fork. We all started laughing that the only non-Asian person was the only one who was actually using chopsticks.
This took me back to another time when I went to eat dinner with my two friends, one Asian and one European. We went to an Americanized Chinese restaurant, and halfway through the meal we realized the same thing – both of the Asian people were using forks, and the non-Asian was using chopsticks.
I’m still not sure why these events happened, but when I think about them I laugh. Maybe it’s because both my dad and my friend know how to use chopsticks and want to prove they can. Maybe it’s assumed that if you’re Asian you know how. Maybe the thought is if they’re not Asian and not using chopsticks, they don’t know how. Whatever the case, it’s still amusing when in the middle of the meal, I look around and see that only one person is using chopsticks, and not the one you’d expect.