Term Paper: History of Chopsticks, Eating and Cooking

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History Of Chopsticks

Chopsticks, eating and cooking utensils developed perhaps as many as 5,000 years ago, represent Oriental culture to many people. Chopsticks are used in multiple Asian cultures. In Chinese their name is "kuai-zi," or "quick little fellows." They are usually square in shape, may be up to 10 inches long, and are not pointed (CAS, p. 1). In Japan, however, chopsticks were about 8" long for men but only about 7" for women, and Japanese chopsticks typically are round and come to a point (CAS, p. 1). Viewing chopsticks as a regional icon is appropriate because of their long history and their symbolic importance in some Asian cultures.

Anthropologists believe that chopsticks began as twigs used to help cook, and that gradually people also used these twigs to pull food from their cooking pots. As Chinese population grew, the people learned to cut their food into small pieces because they would cook faster, using less fuel. Coincidentally, food prepared in this way was easy to pick up and eat with the sticks used for cooking.

Gradually these useful utensils spread throughout Asia, where they developed cultural significance among some groups. For instance, in Japan, they were highly valued and used only for religious ceremonies. In China, the wealthy used silver chopsticks, believing that the silver would turn black if the food had been poisoned. In addition they have been made from bamboo, wood, bone, gold, and even agate and coral (CAS, p. 1).

As Asian cultures developed, each culture established beliefs and rituals about food and how it should be prepared and consumed. The history of chopsticks are riddled with cultural significance, taking on meaning beyond their utilitarian use. For instance, in China many believe that Confucius, an ancient religious philosopher as well as a vegetarian, supported the use of chopsticks because eating meat with knives would remind the eater of how the animal had been killed (CAS, p. 1).

In Japan, how one ate reflected a cultural interest in cleanliness. They believed that hands were always dirty, even after being washed, because they came in contact with so many things that had not been washed. For instance, children are carefully taught to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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History of Chopsticks, Eating and Cooking.  (2006, August 28).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-chopsticks-eating/1708691

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"History of Chopsticks, Eating and Cooking."  Essaytown.com.  August 28, 2006.  Accessed July 22, 2019.