Interesting Facts: Chopsticks

I’m reading the book “Korea Unmasked” by Won-Bok Rhie (huge thanks to Jeonghee Lee for lending it to me!) and it is a really interesting look into the Korean culture and mindset and why it got to be how it is. One thing from the book is why Chinese, Japanese, and Korean chopsticks are different lengths.

A lot of Chinese food is fried so the thinking is that they developed longer chopsticks to avoid getting hot oil on themselves. In Japan, however, rice used to be rare and expensive so it was mixed with other grains, making it less glutinous and harder to pick up with chopsticks. So Japanese people began holding their bowls close to their mouths and had to shorten their chopsticks in turn to avoid poking themselves.

Finally, Korean chopsticks didn’t need to be either particularly long or short so they are in between. However, Koreans have traditionally made soup to extend the use of meat, which has been in the past very rare and expensive. With soup at every meal, a spoon was added to the necessary utensils at a meal. Now Koreans eat rice with a spoon – I’m guessing just because it’s a lot easier. Everything but rice and soup though, you eat with chopsticks.

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