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Ever ask for chopsticks at a non-Asian restaurant?

Or, what's the expectation of the type of eating utensils a restaurant should have on hand?

Last night, took grandpa out for dinner at an Italian eatery and grandpa asked for chopsticks for his pasta. Waiter was, to say the least, flabbergasted. Grandpa ended up making do with the "fork".

I suppose it really isn't fair to expect non-Chinese or Asian restaurants to carry chopsticks, but then most diners DO expect Chinese restaurants to carry forks.

Why the difference?

And, have you ever had any luck getting chopsticks from a non-Asian restaurant?

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  1. Interesting question, never thought about that. I know that you can carry your own chopticks and some of the little knick knacky asian stores even carry chopstick holders. I have actually had disposable chopsticks in my purse sometimes b/c I don't always like the chopsticks at some restaurants. Maybe that would be a better solution for your grandpa, or you could bring it with you when you go to places where he may want to use chopsticks.

    1. chinese restaurants carry forks because a good majority of americans cannot use chopsticks. i watched a woman absolutely massacre maki with a fork and knife the other night.

      some places that serve quasi-asian food (like tuna tartare) may give you chopsticks when you order something appropriate. personally i find it an unnecessary pretense. kind of like getting a fish knife for a salmon filet. and when i was a server, i also thought it was pretentious for a guest to ask. i'm weird like that though.

      is your grandfather chinese?

      6 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        "is your grandfather chinese?"

        Yes, indeed he is.

        And, I dunno about pretense, but for some people (my grandpa included) I think eating with chopsticks is not only more comfortable (and, I suppose, comforting), but just the way noodles should be transported from Point A (the plate) to Point B (the mouth).

        1. re: ipsedixit

          As someone who grew up using chopsticks for most dishes, I do think the comfort level is understandable. My parents still use chopsticks as serving utensils for certain things because it's easier, and maybe a bit more graceful, to pick up broccoli with hashi than with stabbing it with a fork or digging it out with spoon. I suppose tongs would also work, but those just feel like giant chopsticks in a way :).

          I still struggle with certain pastas when using a fork/spoon combo, but I definitely think it's less messy. It also prevents you from taking too much in one bite, a la I Love Lucy.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I eat popcorn and flaming hot cheetos with chopsticks :)

            I can't cook without chopsticks either.....

            1. re: MeowMixx

              I think I'm going to copy your idea and start using chopstix when I eat Hot Cheetos. No more orange fingers!

            2. re: ipsedixit

              my pretense comment referred to western diners in a western restaurant. even if it's fusion. if your grandfather is chinese, and feels more comfortable with stix, it would be easier just to carry them, i should think. i know if i tried to eat spaghetti with chopsticks my grandfather would roll over in his grave!

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I completely agree with you -- I had the same question in my head as I read above -- as long as you are of Asian decent, you may be out of luck but making the request is not pretentious. But if I asked for chopsticks for Italian pasta, I think that would come off as rude - and bizarre. And as far as *why* there are often forks in Chinese restaurants etc. but no chopsticks in Italian... we are in America, after all... and forks are still by far the more popular utensil here. I have been to Asia and although we did not ask, so maybe there were forks and knives available, I never saw even white tourists eating with anything but chopsticks there.

          2. Next time bring your own chopsticks with you. Chinese restaurants in the US carry forks because most of their customers don't know how to use chopsticks. Most restaurants in China (except some in big cities) do not have forks.

            1. Couple of years ago in a remote area of East Timor I carved a set of chopsticks from bamboo while waiting for dinner. Otherwise it was eat by hand, which I can do--but not as well as use chopsticks. No one in the somewhat large group was the least bit offended. The chopticks actually came out really nice; and I still have them. Since then I always travel with a pair.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                You would probably do well on Survivor!

              2. I still have a hard time with chopsticks and am thrilled when I can get through an entire meal with them. Never even saw them until I was in college, and never used them until years later. Now when I go to Asian restaurants, I always try to eat with chopsticks. Unfortunately, I still need a fork sometimes. Noodles are especially difficult for me.

                1. I think it is unreasonable to expect a non-Asian restaurant to have chopsticks available. It's probably good business if it is a tourist type place that routinely gets large volumes of Asian-originating guests -- but as an expectation, it's not reasonable.

                  Similiarly, I don't expect an Ethiopian restaurant to give me a fork, just because it's _my_ way of eating. I eat with my hands, as is traditional in their way of dining.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: orangewasabi

                    That's an interesting point you raise re: Ethiopian restaurants. With Ethiopian cuisine, I suppose, eating with bare hands is part of the dining experience, and so asking for eating utensils of any ilk would be sort of guache.

                    That said, is eating with a fork really intertwined with the dining experience one would expect from an Italian restaurant (or any Western-type restaurant)?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Noodles are just different between Asian restaurants and Italian. In an Asian restaurant (say, a pho shop) nobody will think twice if you bite off noodles and they drop back into the soup... but try that in an Italian place and see what they think! Forks are used in Italian places.

                      The thing that was weird to me was moving to the Midwest, where long pasta is eaten with fork and spoon. The whole time I lived in New Jersey and New York (18 years) I'd never seen a spoon used for pasta, but some well-meaning parents of a friend "corrected" me in a restaurant in Sioux Falls.

                      Yes, I think it's unreasonable to expect non-Asian restaurants to have chopsticks. If your dad thinks noodles should be eaten with chopsticks he can always bring his own -- I never travel without a pair, since they're easy to eat with and don't cause any raised eyebrows from TSA personnel.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        actually i've only seen that done once or twice in the midwest, by italian-american families, 2nd generation.

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        < is eating with a fork really intertwined with the dining experience one would expect from an Italian restaurant >

                        can't say for all "western" food, but I'd say there is definately a RIGHT way to eat spaghetti (per my adopted nonna's rules, anyway) and by extension forks are the way to go in Italian food.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          "[I]s eating with a fork really intertwined with the dining experience one would expect from an Italian restaurant (or any Western-type restaurant)?"

                          Of course. Like at a Thai restaurant one mostly uses a spoon-- using a fork to push food onto the spoon as necessary.

                          Western culinary techniques involve forks. And while many have a difficult time with chopsticks (not me-- nothing stands between me and my food!!), it is very rare to find someone who can't figure out how to use a fork. No one really gets put out with the typical Italian eatery's place setting.

                          1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                            "Western culinary techniques involve forks"

                            I feel the same way about Asian culinary techniques involving chopsticks. I have a friend who insists on going out for sushi regularly yet has never bothered to learn to use chopsticks. She always uses a knife and fork and even takes a set with her in case the sushi place doesn't have any silverware. She also thinks eating sushi with her hands is uncouth, despite being told that this is perfectly acceptable. I think that if people are going to make sushi a frequent part of their dining repertoire then using a knife and fork to eat nigiri is downright embarrassing.

                            1. re: hrhboo

                              Agreed-- and I'm not a big fan of sushi or sashimi. I love Japanese hot food, and eat it all the time. I wouldn't think of eating without the 'sticks!

                              1. re: hrhboo

                                I'd be embarrassed--for your friend--if I went out with her to a sushi place.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I wasn't embarrassed for her since she sees nothing wrong with it. I was embarrassed for me so I no longer go out for sushi with her! I can overlook certain things my friends do that irritate me (making a "soup" out of wasabi/soy/ginger and dipping everything in it, rubbing their chopsticks together, ordering omakase from a table instead of the bar etc) but that was one thing I just couldn't deal with.

                                  1. re: hrhboo

                                    Interesting. We host a lot of Japanese business people at my company. One thing most all do consistently is mix the soy/wasabi to get the proper consistency. Rubbing chopsticks, as I understand it, is only accceptable if they are the cheap kind you split yourself. (eliminates splinters). I don't know if Omakase can every be acceptably ordered from the table. I will have to ask when they return. Since we all use stix, the fork thing has never come up.

                                    1. re: lgphil

                                      It's not that it's unacceptable to order omakase at a table, it's more that the chef relies on the comments and facial expressions of the diners to get a feel for their tastes. It is pretty pointless to order omakase from a table for this reason. Half the joy of it is in having the chef plop the pieces down in front of you and gauge your reaction.

                                      The wasabi/soy thing is a problem for me when people drench the sushi in it. All the delicate flavors of the fish are lost.

                                      1. re: foodism

                                        The concept of omakase, where the chef is somehow reading the diner's every like and dislike, is purely an American invention. In Japan, omakase simply means "I leave it up to you" which is usually the easiest thing to do when dining in a small group, especially at a business dinner. Omakase from the table isn't unusual at all.

                                    2. re: hrhboo

                                      I'm a soup maker.
                                      And a chopstick rubber.
                                      It seems you're saying those are bad things- note to self.

                                      1. re: nummanumma

                                        Those aren't the nicest things to do in a sushi restaurant, but if that's how you enjoy it best then go for it! I'm sure I do many improper things when dining out (I'm a "dressing on the side" girl, and I realize this may be offensive to some chefs).

                                        A bit more info:


                                  2. re: hrhboo


                                    Good for your friend. She will not let a little thing like a knife and fork stop her from eating sushi. Mrs Jfood would NEVER use her hands to pick up sushi (but she's a master of chopsticks). When I am in Tokyo with colleagues, I follow their lead to see if sticks or fingers are the mode d'evening). Funny sometimes they are following my lead as the guest so we get into a Texas Standoff. Pretty funny sometimes.

                                    I am curious though. Since she is your friend have you tried having her over and teaching her how to use chopsticks? Or take her one-on-one to a resto and ask for a pair with the rubber band on one end. I suggest that you describe this as experiencing the full sushi experience.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      That's a great suggestion, Jfood, and one that I have certainly considered. I don't feel it's fair to interfere with her enjoyment of sushi, she's eaten it with a knife and fork for years and that seems to be the way she likes to do it. She's lovely and great fun, I should make more of an effort to get past this little quirk.

                            2. Yes, I usually ask for chopsticks with my bass when I'm eating at the Blue Water Grill in New York. I feel much more comfortable eating the fish with the chopsticks since it comes with sticky rice and Asian vegetables.

                              They offer chopsticks with a couple of their Asian-inspired dishes (although not the bass), and have always been quite happy to accomodate me.

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: sidwich

                                Now that I think about it, I think McCormick & Schmick's does the same thing.

                                1. re: sidwich

                                  how is it easier to eat a piece of fish filet with chopsticks? or do you eat the bass with a fork, and the rice with stix?

                                  i'm confused.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Actually, as a life-long user of chopsticks and silverware, I think chopsticks are the best/easiest for fish with a lot of bones. But implement choice, for me, depends: single plate the fish and rice or whatever--knife and fork; rice bowl and fish on plate--chopsticks.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      That's funny... when I cook fish at home and bring it to the dinner table, I HAVE to bring a pair of chopsticks with me to use for serving! Guess it reminds of mom. :-) (I'm Chinese).

                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                      I grew up using chopsticks, and I actually find it easier to eat many foods with chopsticks rather than knife and fork. And to answer your question, I eat the fish, the vegetables and the rice all with chopsticks. The fish flakes off beautifully with the chopsticks and I hold it all together with the sticky rice in one tasty bundle.

                                      It's much easier for me than trying to hold it all together with the fork. I'm not really comfortable trying to spear the rice with the fork, and I find it awkward piling the rice and fish onto the tines. The fish is okay with the fork (and it's what I usually do in Western restaurants), but given the option, I'd rather use chopsticks.

                                      1. re: sidwich

                                        I suck with chopsticks but I must say that salads are VASTLY easier to eat with chopsticks! As are noodle soups and fish (especially tartares, even steak). But I would rather use a fork for banh cuon and chow fun, go figure!

                                        1. re: chaddict

                                          I struggle with chow fun with chinese chopsticks. But give me those japanese ones and it's no problem!

                                          1. re: MeAndroo

                                            I like eating with chop sticks-most restaurants don't have them aside from the Asian ones--although one or two organic vegetarian reataurants I have eaten in have them available upon request. I like cooking with chop sticks too. I use both the wood and plastic ones.

                                            1. re: marlie202

                                              I can't imagine flipping bacon with a fork or tongs. Chopsticks were practically made for flipping bacon.

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                Why have I never thought of that, it makes perfect sense!

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  As an off-premise caterer, I always carry several pairs of chopsticks in my kit- Applying garnishes and transfering small items like canapes and petitfours is much easier with chopsticks.

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek


                                                    If you think of it the tongs i use are just a version of chopsticks (the ones with the rubber band on one end).

                                                    Never thought of it that way. Pretty cool.

                                                  2. re: marlie202

                                                    Yes!!! Cooking (when I actually do it, lazy git!) is easier with chopsticks. Even whisking seems easier...or maybe it's just that clean-up is easier. ; )

                                                  3. re: MeAndroo

                                                    And let's not even get into Korean chopsticks. Even seasoned plastic- and bamboo-chopstickers embarrass themselves when faced with long, heavier-at-one-end, absolutely smooth steel chopsticks.

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      For the uninitiated, or even for the seasoned chopsticks user, those things can be the eating equivalent of the Chinese water torture ...

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        The tough thing about Korean food for me is that since their chopsticks are tough to use, I would normally just pick up a bowl of rice and use that to make sure food gets to my mouth. But half the places use these metal bowls that get super hot! I'll stick to my Japanese wood/ceramic bowls.

                                                        1. re: MeAndroo

                                                          That's actually because Koreans eat rice with a spoon.

                                                    2. re: chaddict

                                                      i love to eat salads with chopsticks at home, but when dining out at an italian or french place i wouldn't expect them to supply me a set of sticks, and i'd feel out of place bringing my own when everyone around me is using forks.

                                                      in a similar vein i've also felt out of place eating indian food with my hands in restaurants, and i've started to use a knife and fork, although it's still weird-- i guess people just adapt to the table habits of those around them.

                                                      around here, though, thai places frequently have chopsticks available, and i've seen people ask for them!

                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                        Thais eat noodles with chopsticks -- but there are definitely people who eat all Thai food with chopsticks.

                                                        I have gotten "extras" at my meal when the waitstaff have seen me a) order it "Thai spicy" and b) eat with a spoon, with the fork as pusher.

                                                      2. re: chaddict

                                                        so true about chopsticks and salad, especially if you're a dressing-dipper like me!
                                                        I grew up using chopsticks (dad is jewish and from queens, what can I say) and actually feel like they are more comfortable and graceful than a fork and knife in most situations that don't involve something like a big steak.

                                                2. We are a knife and fork nation. I am not speaking of placing one on the flag but guys let's call a spade a spade. Heck, look at the avatar that Chowhound gave us as a default, a knife up one armpit and a fork up the other. OK guys I expect to see one of you change the avatar with chopsticks but that's another thread.

                                                  If you do not believe my intro look at all the posts. We called it a Chinese resto, an Italian resto, etc. so we start with the whole and then have subsets, and BTW I love all the subsets. But to expect every resto to have utensils from all the cultures that have contributed to the wonderfulness of our cuisine is a bit of a stretch. If using sticks makes you comfortable, bring your own. Believe me they will be nicer than the break-apart junk you would get anyways and giving the frequency they would be used the ones they gave you would probably have been in the back of the drawer for months, blah.

                                                  How many times have i needed to ask for a spoon in an Italian resto when I order long pasta, and then I receive a teaspoon. i want a soup spoon so i can get the pasta twirled on my fork to enjoy, not four strands.

                                                  So the utensils at the resto should follow the culture of the cuisine, but should be fully accepting if the custo wants to use utensils that will increase the pleasure of the complete dining experience. It's not a High School test.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    Agreed! With the exceptions being......
                                                    ---where there is a section of the menu (even an item) that begs the use of a specific utensil...... as with a distinctly Asian dish on a non-Asian menu. In my mind the resto would be smart to add the 'flavor' of available chopsticks.
                                                    ---where the restaurant is located in a place where a significant number of guests are of a culture that is more comfortable with a type of utensil...... it just makes good business sense to offer that alternative.

                                                    That's my $.02 on the subject.

                                                    1. re: Midlife


                                                      Those are two excellent exceptions. I wholeheartedly agree on both.

                                                  2. Same thing goes for pho. You use the chopsticks to place the noodles and meat into the spoon. You dip the spoon into broth and spoon into mouth. That is the proper way. It is hard to do correctly because you have to get just the right amount of banh pho (noodles) onto the spoon without spilling over the sides. That way you form the perfect bite of pho.

                                                    I didn't really learn how to use chopsticks properly until I first went to Vietnam when I was 22 and some of the places we went to did not have forks. Now I prefer them when I am eating asian food.

                                                    I wouldn't expect a italian restaurant to carry chopsticks. If I wanted to make sure I had chopsticks available, I would bring them. Same goes for bringing your own fork. But when in Rome....

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: septocaine_queen

                                                      I am American, but eat many things with Chopsticks. I always use them for asian food, to me it just doesn't taste good without them. I even use them at home as well, I use the Chinese soup spoons at home too. They are so much better than our spoons. I do think they are more graceful and even kinder and gentler to the food. It does seem horrific to stab the food with a fork, esp. food like olives, mushrooms, and many other food items. They are great for getting olives out of jars. I often do carry them in my purse, just in case, and I like using my own and not those cheap ones they give you in the restaurants. Practice makes perfect! I have a friend from Taiwan and she exclaimed that she had never seen an American use chopsticks so well! I was proud.

                                                      1. re: septocaine_queen

                                                        Wow I thought slurping was the correct way to eat the noodles. Thanks for the lesson.

                                                      2. This reminds me of the movie Once Upon a Time in China where a naive Wong Fei Hung (played by Lǐ Liánjié aka Jet Li) upon being seated at a formal dinner table in a western embassy quipped "Why are there so many weapons on the table?" Well I got his point!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sel

                                                          I think it would be an exceptionally gracious act on the restaurant's behalf to carry chopsticks for grandpa or any other diner requsting them, even though it is an Italian restaurant, it is a wide wide world, diverse, and with many customs that are still in effect. I hope that a good, no a great business person would acknowledge that fact, and want to be accommodating to any and all customers anytime they can. It's those "little" extra touches that keep me coming back for more.

                                                          Most of all I believe that Grandpa would of been delighted with the courtesey, and it would of planted an excellent dining experience for all in attendance that evening. A good business no matter what the cuisine in my opinion is stellar when they make that attempt to acknowledge to accommodate every customer as much as possible and if means buying a few pairs of chopsticks, then they should. And just another note, if I were a guest dining in that establishment and saw him eating his pasta with the chopsticks, it would of warmed my heart.

                                                          No I am not Asian, just very generic and boring, I absolutely love the differences in our World and sure hope the traditions and customs stay around a long time. I hope that Grandpa was ok without the chopsticks and the food made up for that lack.
                                                          I know this, I am absolutely bummed out when I can't get chopsticks when I'm at a Chinese restaurant, and yes it has happened.Because for me, It changes the taste of the food, vastly.

                                                          I just love my chopsticks when eating noodles.

                                                          Perhaps a pair or two could be stored in the glove box for the next time just in case...
                                                          Is it okay to ask for chopsticks in an Italian restaurant, Absolutely.

                                                        2. On the other hand, when we (although, potbelliedkiln, I'm an American as well) eat with chopsticks, we have a rice bowl in the free hand. Food from plates is lifted by chopstick, the rice bowl slid under the food (ostensibly to catch anything that falls--but this is more custom than a necessity) as it is raised to the mouth. It seems even with chopsticks but without ricebowl, Grandpa would be uncomfortable.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Ha! When I eat spaghetti at home alone, I tend to use chopsticks and lift the plate with the pasta and use it much in the same manner as a rice bowl. Obviously this doesn't fly at a restaurant.

                                                            1. re: MeAndroo

                                                              MA, that is hilarious! Wonder if that's what Grandpa would have done.

                                                          2. A few things: I cannot stand when people eat sushi with a fork and knife. The consistency and form of each individual piece should be preserved, not massacred and chopped up so that it's practically ABC (already been chewed) on the plate. Another thing: there needs to be a distinction when talking about using chopsticks with "Asian food." Not all Asian cuisines require chopsticks. For example, a common misconception is that Thai food is traditionally eaten with chopsticks. I can't stand it when people go to a Thai restuarant and think it's "inauthentic" because it doesn't have chopsticks on the table. Chopsticks are a Chinese influence and Thai eating habits are more derivative of an Indian tradition, and before a concerted effort by a Thai king Chulalongkorn to modernize Thailand and implement widespread utensil use (fork and spoon), Thais ate with their hands. Chopsticks are only used when eating Chinese-influenced meals, like noodles. Oh, and my mom eats steak with chopsticks, cut up into little pieces. Better portion control that way, too.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: sianwu

                                                              Yes, a great proportion of Asians traditionally eat with their hands. The restaraunt might not have been pleased with someone eating with their hands.

                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                It works the other way as well. In the Fijis, my husband ordered curry at a fair and there no utensils available. I wouldn't have expected them to carry utensils they don't normally and it was pretty funny watching him try to eat it without making a mess as we walked around. Plus, he forgot to grab napkins.

                                                            2. You know, one thing is that the fork-and-knife is the American way, thus all restaurants in America are expected to carry forks and knives. In HK, par contre, the cone of French fries (with ketchup -- I missed ketchup, sad as that is) I ordered from a booth in Lan Kwai Fong came with wooden chopsticks.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                Can we say that the "American way" now includes fork-and-knife, chopsticks (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean styles), hands, and spoon-and-fork; but that utensils provided by restaurants are done on the basis of the style of food?

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    Er, I should have been clearer -- I meant that throughout our history, American food (as opposed to "ethnic" cuisines brought here, whether Americanised or not) has been eaten with fork, knife and spoon. Thus, it has become somewhat the default. Kids learn to eat with fork, knife and spoon and, in most of the country, aren't exposed to chopsticks or the Thai way (in which the fork is not placed in the mouth) until later, at all.

                                                                    This creates an expectation that all restaurants in America should provide at least forks.

                                                                    The reverse, then, happens in China, where chopsticks are what kids are brought up using (though they're exposed to forks much earlier than American kids are exposed to chopsticks), thus my experience in HK where the fries came with wooden chopsticks as the Chinese default.

                                                                    I didn't realise until just now how pompous that "cuz that's the AMERICAN way, yer either with us or against us" nonsense came out... it was meant more like the explanation above. :-P

                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                      DU, a fine rebound!

                                                                      But I was also implying that with our country's welcome diversification, the proportions is high of American kids whose first languages include something in addition to English and whose first implements are something else in addition to a knife and a fork.

                                                                      Funny you should mention that the Thai fork is not placed in the mouth. Filipinos use the spoon and fork, and at times eat with both simultaneously.

                                                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek


                                                                    Heck, that's what America is wrt knife and fork (look at the CH default avatar), and when I eat in Japan I would expect chopsticks, in Thailand, their utensils, etc. If I ever went to a Sushi bar in Tokyo and saw a knife and fork at every place setting, i'd probably leave. If I want to go to an Italian, french, Columbian or any other resto and bring along chopsticks, Thai spoons or just a Henry VIII knife, that's cool, but I do not think every resto should carry every type of utensil. If they have a couple of different utensils around, that's a plus and yippee for them, but to expect it is not in the Jfood must-dos.

                                                                  3. Yardhouse carries chopsticks. Not very chowish, but I adore that chain (for their happy hour).

                                                                    1. interesting thread.
                                                                      clearly, the world of food is better for the widespread sharing of ingredients and cooking techniques, so why not utensils as well? pasta is often considered a chinese noodle derivative. tomatoes are from central america, right? pepper is from tropical asia, and tempura, iirc, is from portugal.

                                                                      i think the idea is that we all take whatever we can get from wherever it comes from to enhance our eating experience. if chopsticks are a better utensil for a given task, they should absolutely be used.

                                                                      but as to the specific case of grandpa's pasta, i think its a judgement call. obviously, since americans and italians aren't traditional chopstick users, the resto can't be EXPECTED to provide stix, but in our ever globalizing dining habits and our embrace of "technology" and multiculturalism, such accommodations should be seen as reasonable, if not proactive and savvy.

                                                                      as others have noted, salads are best eaten with stix, as are olives, and probably also the salumi platter. i bet marco polo, sitting at kublai khan's table, just never learned to use stix, if they were there at all. after all, the great khan was mongolian. but who knows, if marco had learned to use them, we might actually be saying "dove il stecci?" if we walked into a trattoria and did not see two familiar sticks sitting at our place settings.

                                                                      (ok, sorry for the pseudo italian)

                                                                      and hey, don't we get nutcrackers with our crab cioppino, bibs with lobster, and mini forks and those funny tongs with escargot?

                                                                      1 Reply