International Teen Blogger: Zhu

The name “chopsticks” was first coined by William Dampier. Interesting enough, he also created the terms cashew, avocado, and barbeque.
In Chinese history, chopsticks, or Zhu, were originally used for stirring or cooking food in deep bowls. They were at least in use by the Shang Dynasty of China. To reduce the cost of cooking food, it was cut into small pieces; chopsticks were much less expensive to produce for the general population than other utensils.
Aside from the fact that the food was already pre-cut into small places, thus making knives unnecessary, Confucius spoke against knives at the table. They reminded him of the slaughterhouse and brought a feeling or warfare and violence to the peacefulness of the table.
Chopsticks are generally categorized by what they’re made of whether it be wood, gold, ivory, silver, or another. It was thought by the elite that the silver chopsticks they used would corrode and turn black when they touched poisonous food. In reality, the silver only turned black when it came into contact with onions, rotten eggs, or garlic with no actual reaction to cyanide or other poisons.
There is just a slight difference between Japanese and Chinese chopsticks. The Japanese chopsticks are commonly 8 inches for men and 7 inches for women; the end of the sticks are pointed. Chinese chopsticks are around 10 inches in length and have blunt tips.
chinese-vs-japanese-illustration

Some interesting taboos and folklore:
-You shouldn’t put chopsticks upright in the bowl, for that is a tradition purely for incense or sacrifice
-Dropping your chopsticks is usually a sign of bad luck
-Having your chopsticks uneven on the table is a sign that you’ll be late to the next train/car ride you take
-The closer to the ends you hold your chopsticks, the longer you’ll be married
-Don’t bang your bowl with the chopsticks, for this act is associated with beggars
-Don’t stretch out your index finger when you hold chopsticks; this hints at accusation

Just a few sources:
http://www.asianartmall.com/chopstickshistory.htm
http://japanesefood.about.com/od/tablemanners/qt/Tips-For-Holding-Chopsticks-Properly.htm
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/cuisine_drink/cuisine/chopsticks.htm
http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/topic/17696-why-did-the-chinese-use-chopsticks-to-eat/
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-of-chopsticks-64935342/

—Ale, 16

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