Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why I Don't Use Chopsticks

Having garnered some attention as the person who has eaten at over 6,000 Chinese restaurants, a great deal of focus has been paid to the fact that I can't use chopsticks.  This has generated some negative response in the form of "Well if you like Chinese food so much, why don't you learn to use chopsticks?"  Well the answer lies not in not wanting to use chopsticks, but not being able to use them.

They say the proper way to hold a pair of chopsticks is to hold them the same way you hold a pencil.  That's fine, but I never learned how to hold a pencil the right way.  My mom told me that when I was in the first grade, the teacher spotted the fact that I held the pencil incorrectly.  But alas, it was too late.  She could not undo what I had started and was unable to correct my pencil holding style.  Consequently, my fingers do not have the muscles needed to operate chopsticks. Indeed, I can't even use the spring operated chopsticks mentioned in the L.A. Times article for the same reason.  And believe me it's no fun travelling to Asia and having to remember to bring a fork to every meal, just in case the local restaurant didn't have any.  Interestingly, that has not been an actual problem except for once, in of all places, Los Angeles.

Note that the inability to hold a pencil properly is more than an annoyance.  In holding a pencil the way I do, writing becomes very painful after a short period of time.  Indeed, when I sat for the bar examination in the pre-computer days, I had to do hand exercises for weeks before the bar exam to prepare for the three day writing marathon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just discovered your blog when my friends and I were discussing restaurant choices for his birthday celebration. I am in a similar boat you are in regards to using chopsticks, for a similar reason, I learned to use a pencil the wrong way as well, and although it does not hurt that much to write, it can get very tiring for me after an hour or so of writing. With chopsticks, I can somewhat use them, but the distance to pickup and mouth must be short, and I have no skill whatsoever to cut up the food with the chopsticks - I end up squeezing the chopsticks together using all my fingers to simulate the use of them. It is easy for me to get away with it eating rice, since at that point, I just hold them together and use them as a shovel.

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