Eating Utensils And Asian Food Culture Essay

Eating Utensils And Asian Food Culture Essay

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Chopsticks are a set of well-known eating utensils which are widely used in parts of Asia. They are nothing more than just two identical thin sticks with pointed or blunt ends which are made of wood, bamboo, plastic, silver, etc.. It is very simple to operate chopsticks, I would say, just hold them and use them. Apart from liquid food such as soup and porridge, I eat with chopsticks for nearly all meals. I found this practice relatively dominant particularly in Chinese community where it is not always convenient to obtain an alternative to chopsticks. Using chopsticks, this bodily practice has been typically associated to Asian culture (not merely Chinese culture since Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. are also commonly reviewed as typical chopsticks-used communities) and has become an identity of, specifically, Asian food culture. There is a stereotypical preconception behind this: every Chinese people should use chopsticks to eat. In this case, I mean food apart from liquid food as mentioned and finger food such as desserts and chicken drumsticks.
Eating is part of the everyday routine, thus our bodies have habitualized to tools or utensils applied on food consumption. It has gradually transformed to “a routinized type of behaviour” which Reckwitez defines it as ‘practice’ (as cited in Shove, 2007, p. 12) whilst any practices will consequently “entail consumption” according to Warde (as cited in Shove). Nevertheless consumption is not merely the consequence of practice; likewise consumption could evoke the desire for knowledge of the relevant practice. For instance, a person may intend to learn how to use the combination of chopsticks and spoon if he finds out that the relevant practice is a more effective way to consume a bow...


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...en though chopsticks dominate my dining habitus. Unlike in China where chopsticks are considered as a hegemonic dining culture, food culture mentioned previously such as knife and fork culture and finger culture are commonly practiced in Malaysia. Both chopsticks and forks are provided everywhere for consumers to pick the utensils they want corresponding to their discourses. Indeed we can still survive eating steak with chopsticks or eating noodles with spoon, yet we choose, or coerced to utilize a so-called ‘appropriate’ utensil to a meal responsively. I have a Chinese friend who does not know how to use chopsticks (yet this is fairly ordinary) but persists to eat with chopsticks all the time. We, as bodies, have conformed and adapted to the culture implied in the community, whilst our practices, tastes and habitus change accordingly to the discourse we engage with.

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