China Essentials 101: Chopsticks

Kuaizi, Chinese for chopsticks, is a delicate affair. Two equal-length tapered sticks are held in a precise way that allows Chinese cuisine-lovers to hold grasp of a slippery dumpling or a delicate tofu; or if you’re into eating a whole fish as Chinese do, then nothing beats your pair of Kuaizi.

Have you ever made a mess using chopsticks, spilling food on your favorite shirt and making a fool out of yourself? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, even adult Chinese people occasionally struggle with Kuaizi. I myself have a long story with Kuaizi.

As a young boy, I’d accompany friends or family to a Chinese place. I remember the countless times I sat there staring in awe at my pals as they bragged about their Kuaizi abilities, while I settled for boring fork and knife, or daocha in Chinese. It was only when I moved to live in Shanghai that my Kuaizi fortunes turned around, and from one day to the next, I suddenly gave up the daocha instinct and embraced my elegant pair of sticks. Why this is dear to me? Because using chopsticks, as simple as it sounds, has been serving me on my journey to understand Chinese culture and to access society and opportunities in China.

Your long journey always starts at the dining table!

Other Kuaizi uses and challenges:

  • Honing your Kuaizi skills by catching a mosquito with chopsticks
  • Tying a hair bun with chopsticks, man bun included 😉

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