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Chopsticks are a pair of thin sticks used to eat Asian food. They were first developed 5,000 years ago, in China, from where they then spread to Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Chopsticks are commonly found at Asian food eateries, as well as in homes. Although chopsticks can also be made of ivory, or stainless steel, they are most commonly made of wood. There are several varieties of wood chopsticks, including aspen, bamboo, sandalwood, teak, and pine.
Disposable chopsticks are available at most chain restaurants that serve Asian food. These varieties of wood chopsticks are made from either pine, or aspen. Because they are for single use, they are not lacquered, which leaves a rough finish that may result in splinters. It is advised to rub the disposable chopsticks together to remove any loose wood particles. Disposable chopsticks cost approximately $9 US Dollars (USD) for 80 pairs. The price gets lower with the purchase of large quantities.
Higher quality, non-disposable chopsticks are often made of bamboo. Bamboo chopsticks are relatively inexpensive, costing around $4 USD per pair. Due to the fact that they are coated with lacquer, they are able to be washed and reused. This variety of wood chopsticks is often mixed with a darker shade of wood for aesthetic purposes. Higher end bamboo chopsticks may be decorated with Asian designs.
Teak chopsticks are manufactured in Vietnam, where teak trees grow rampantly due to the tropical monsoon climate. Teak is a dark, tropical hardwood that makes beautiful, warm colored chopsticks. This variety of chopstick is often decorated with mother-of-pearl, or gold plated designs. Teak chopsticks are often handmade. This variety of wood chopsticks cost approximately $30 USD per pair.
Wood chopsticks that are made of sandalwood are very elegant. They are often given as gifts because of their intricate designs and fine craftsmanship. Sandalwood chopsticks are sanded, polished and layered with lacquer, giving them a smooth, shiny finish. Sandalwood chopsticks are more for decorative purposes, as the food slides off the slick finish making them difficult to eat with. These types of chopsticks cost approximately $70 USD.
Chopsticks that aren't lacquered should be disposed of immediately after use. Food catches in the crevices of the wood causing bacteria to build up. Like all wood products, wooden chopstick must be hand washed and allowed to air dry after use. Don't wash wooden chopsticks in the dishwasher, as the heat will cause the lacquer to crack and the wood to splinter.
I have a friend with a father who has been told by his doctor to use chopsticks. Even though he's quite skinny, he has been told he needs to slow down his eating, I think maybe so he won't overeat? I'm not sure why to be honest.
But, at any rate he uses chopsticks so he won't eat so fast. He uses them even when eating things like pasta, which I imagine is quite difficult.
But, he has a nice set of stainless steel chopsticks that have been made a bit rough so the food doesn't slide off.
I wouldn't mind getting a pair like that myself.
I have found that a lot of people who don't know how to use chopsticks think it must be very difficult, but in fact it isn't.
All you have to do is hold one chop stick like it is a pencil, and the other against your hand. The pencil chopstick is the only one that moves and it grips the food against the other one.
I had a Chinese tutor teach me how to use them. She made everyone in the class pick up greasy peanuts for a while, and I can tell you, if you can pick up one of those using chopsticks you can pick up anything.
If you like using chopsticks, you should try to get a more permanent pair. I know it's really easy to just pick up a disposable set at the takeaway place, and it doesn't seem as bad as using, say, disposable plates or cups because wood is a renewable resource.
But, there are huge amounts of chopsticks that are use and then thrown away and it generates an awful lot of waste. Not to mention the trees that have to be chopped down. Even if they are from a plantation, that is land that could be used in other ways.
And it is so cheap and simple to just treat chopsticks like you would a spoon or fork and buy a permanent set and just wash them with your plates.
So, please if you use them a lot, think about getting a real chopsticks set.
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