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Chopsticks are traditionally used to eat Oriental food in the way that the Western world use knives and forks. Knives and forks are very rarely used in Asia, as the inhabitants prefer to use chopsticks to eat their food on an everyday basis. Chopsticks can be used to bring a more authentic feel to the dining. Whilst some may struggle with these utensils for actually eating, the chopsticks do at least help to decorate the table in an appropriate way.
Chopsticks have an interesting history, and are a major part of oriental culture. Many sources indicate that the first chopsticks were created in China, over 5000 years ago. It is likely that the first form of chopsticks that were used to consume cooked food were sticks cut from the small tree branches that were used by early man to retrieve food from the fire once it was ready to eat. As time went on, the population in China grew rapidly and fuel became scarce. To use less fuel to cook, the food had to be cut into smaller pieces so that it would cook more rapidly. This meant that knives were not required to cut it up when it was placed in a traditional eating bowl; chopsticks were much more suitable implements to use to transfer the food from the bowl to the mouth. Over the next 3500 years, the use of chopsticks spread to other countries, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and eventually became widespread across the whole of Asia. They are now the main eating instruments used in the continent. The art of using chopsticks effectively without making a mess can be difficult to master; however, with some practice they become quite easy to use.
Traditional chopsticks are made from bamboo, an easy to split, heat-resistant material that is found naturally in large quantities throughout Asia. Some other decorative woods are also used to make chopsticks, and the wealthy often have their chopsticks made of bone and precious metals, which are often engraved and are things of some beauty. Since chopsticks have come in to regular use in the Western world, for example in oriental restaurants, plastic versions have emerged, many of which are decorated with various colours, patterns, and wording. It is now possible to buy chopsticks very cheaply in the UK, especially those that are made from plastic.
The Types of Chopstick
There are two main types of chopsticks, Chinese and Japanese chopsticks. They differ in their length and shape, and have differently shaped ends.
Chinese chopsticks are normally rectangular in profile with blunt ends, and are between 9 and 10 inches long. In China they are called Kuai-Zi, which means quick little fellows.
Japanese chopsticks were traditionally made like tweezers. They were made out of two pieces of bamboo that were joined at one end. Over time they have evolved, and are now made as two separate pieces. They are normally rounded and taper to a point, and are a little shorter than Chinese chopsticks: typically 7 to 8 inches in length.
There are many factors to consider when choosing between different types of chopsticks. Almost all chopsticks that are made in developed countries, such as the UK and America, are perfectly safe to eat with and reuse, and buyers simply need to consider practicality and preference when choosing between them. However, buyers who are considering buying chopsticks from less developed countries should consider some additional factors to avoid any potential harm from using the chopsticks. When buying chopsticks which have not been produced in the UK or America, there are a few extra points which have to be considered. Buyers should choose unpainted types. as the painted ones may contain harmful substances, such as lead or benzene. There are also a number of other factors that buyers should consider when choosing chopsticks that can make them easier to use.
Chopsticks are made out of various types of material and they feel very different to hold and use. For example, bamboo, plastic, and wooden chopsticks are lightweight and are the easiest variety to use. In contrast to this, metal chopsticks are heavy and difficult to grip, and bone chopsticks such as ivory are easy to grip, but are quite heavy. Beginners should consider buying plastic, bamboo or wooden chopsticks, as they are likely to find these the easiest to use without a great deal of practice; they are also the cheapest to buy. More accomplished chopstick users may choose to purchase a more expensive pair. Chopstick users who are used to eating with chopsticks made of a specific material may wish to stick to that material when they buy a new pair of chopsticks. Familiarity with a particular type of material can aid in the individual’s efficient use of chopsticks. As well as traditional chopsticks, it is possible to buy learners' chopsticks, which have holes for the digits so that they can be easily held in the correct position. These are ideal for children to start out with.
The choice of chopsticks available to buy in the UK is extremely diverse, and buyers can find chopsticks in almost any colour and design online, on sites such as eBay. Chopsticks range from plain bamboo models decorated with Chinese writing, to neon coloured plastic chopsticks, to chopsticks decorated with cartoon figures. When purchasing chopsticks for regualr domestic use, a neutral colour that can be used with all varieties of table decoration is recommended. Some chopsticks come in packs of several pairs, which means that it is easy to buy matching chopsticks. In addition, some may come with decorative covers, making them more attractive to put on the table, and some may come individually wrapped in paper so that they are kept clean. Normally, chopsticks, which are individually wrapped are used once and then thrown away.
Considering a Budget When Buying Chopsticks
Chopsticks are generally very inexpensive. More expensive models, such as ivory chopsticks are available, however, buyers should balance the cost of the chopsticks with how often they will be used – if they regularly eat oriental food, it may be better to invest in a good pair of well-made, more expensive chopsticks which are easy to use and have good grip. However, if they only want the chopsticks for a rare event, cheap throwaway chopsticks are likely to be sufficient. The fact that many chopsticks can be bought in packs can help buyers to ensure that they have enough of a budget available to provide chopsticks for every guest.
Finding Chopsticks on eBay
It is very quick and easy to find a huge variety of chopsticks on eBay and there are two ways of quickly finding suitable products. Firstly, type in 'chopsticks' or something more specific such as 'cartoon chopsticks ' in to the search bar on the homepage, which will bring up a list of matching products. The search can then be narrowed down by either clicking on the suggested links under the search bar, or using the tick box system down the left hand side, which will then display only products that meet the exact requirements – for example, chopsticks that are new and come from the UK. Another way to quickly find chopsticks is to browse through categories. From the homepage, select Home, Furniture & DIY, followed by Cookware, Dining a& Bar, followed by Cutlery, followed by Chopsticks. Further subcategories can then be chosen if a particular category of chopsticks is sought after.
Chopsticks can be bought very easily and cheaply in the UK, in a huge variety of different materials, shapes, sizes, and designs. Consider the appearance of the chopsticks, the personal budget, and how easy the chopsticks will be to use before commiting to the purchase. Once a product has been chosen, use eBay to find suitable products and buy them quickly and affordably.