image courtesy chezpim

The Scoop on Chopsticks in Thai Food

Posted by 78a7e62a tiny Jonathan Soma on jan 30, 2012 under Blog Post

If this post were a horror movie the title would be appropriately ominous. Since it's about food I guess the right word is "hint."

Chopsticks were invented about 4000 years ago in China, and spread to nearby Japan, Korea and Vietnam without too much trouble. I'd like to think it's thanks to 筷子 translating to "quick little bamboo fellows" but if you'd prefer to think it's thanks to utility that's fine as well.

While Chinese missionaries brought chopsticks to Thailand as well, it didn't have the lasting impact that it has had elsewhere. Even Yahoo answers can take this one: Thais don't generally use chopsticks, their main utensils are forks and spoons.

A certain king, whether it be Rama IV or Rama II or who-knows-who (the Internet is of conflicting opinions), invited the British consul over for dinner one evening. Impressed by the usage of the fork and spoon, he promptly made it the Right Way To Eat. No knives, either - they were considered possible weapons and banished from the table (Thai food is generally cut into small enough pieces to make them unneccessary, anyway).

But even though the utensils match, the method is a bit different than what we're used to. The fork is used to push food into the spoon, which is then eaten from. None of that poking around nonsense.

When it comes to noodle dishes, though, chopsticks do have their place (have you ever tried to eat noodles with a spoon?). This is probably also a reflection of the fact that noodles themselves came over from China.

So next time you're eating a green curry with a spoon and your compatriots chide you for your Westernly ways, counterattack! "I read this blog post that said it was fine," you'll say, and they'll nod reluctantly, ashamed in acceptance of their ignorance.

The next time you're out with those very same friends relishing a heaping plate of pad see ew, be wary of unfounded criticism of your chopsticks. "What about that blog post?" they'll condescend to you, shaking their spoons. You'll patiently explain the importation of noodles from China and once again your position as Flatware Sage will be demonstrated.

If someone brings up eating with your hands or sticky rice, though, just give up, because they know far more than the easy generalizations this blog post just taught you.

Tagged with thai food utensils chopsticks

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