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Why are chopsticks the main eating utensil in many Asian cultures, but forks and knives serve the same purpose in many European cultures, and those descended from European cultures?

Note: good answers will reference solid historical or anthropological facts or resources, not just be speculation.

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To the close voter: we'd welcome your input on meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1701/… –  Jefromi Apr 11 '13 at 19:51
    
This book is fairly interesting and directly related: amazon.com/Consider-Fork-History-How-Cook/dp/046502176X –  Jacob G Apr 11 '13 at 20:05
    
@JacobG I read the preview on my Kindle, thanks for the tip! –  SAJ14SAJ Apr 13 '13 at 15:17

1 Answer 1

Why have chopsticks been adapted as the primary utensil of choice:

The answer I've been taught my whole life (and I'm Chinese) was that Confucius believed that forks and knives promoted a sort of violence when eating and that it was best to keep weapons off of the dinner table and promote a gentleness when eating. This would follow his philosophical teachings.

Where do chopsticks come from:

The origin of the chopstick itself is fairly unknown, but believed to be an evolution of the ancient chinese who would roast meats over/in coals and use long sticks to fish them out. As food and fuel became more scarce food was cut into smaller pieces to cook more quickly and smaller sticks were needed to pick up the food.

History of chopsticks: http://www.asianartmall.com/chopstickshistory.htm http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/08/the-history-of-chopsticks/

Confucius and Chopsticks: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-01/09/content_297513.htm

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Interesting, although the first Smithsonian article also indicates chopsticks predate Confucius by about 2500 years. Certainly Confucianism could have contributed to the rise of their ubiquity. –  SAJ14SAJ Apr 11 '13 at 19:50
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That's what I was trying to convey as a response to why chopsticks were adapted as a primary means of utensil even in the light of forks and knives being available. If that's not clear in the answer I can edit it if you want. –  Brendan Apr 11 '13 at 19:51

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