[ B O O K S ] BY TOM WILK
Picking Up Some
THINK YOU KNOW ALL THERE IS to know
about chopsticks? Probably not, says
Edward Wang, professor of history and
coordinator of Asian Studies at Rowan
University in Glassboro. The Cherry Hill
resident’s new book, Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History (Cambridge
University Press), can fix that.
Growing up in Shanghai, Wang
learned early on from his mother the
proper use of chopsticks. “When I was
five, we spent an afternoon, two to three
hours, with her instructing me,” he says.
The key, he says, is keeping the lower stick
stable and using the upper stick like a claw
to pick up food.
Along the way, Wang, 57, snapped up
a trove of chopstick trivia. Here are 10
1 I Chopsticks have been used for more
than 7,000 years.
2 I More than 1. 5 billion people eat with
3 I Some Chinese rulers used silver
chopsticks to detect arsenic in food. The
poison discolors the metal.
4 I Chopsticks are helpful in dieting as
they slow eating.
5 I Lacquer prolongs the life of chopsticks.
6 I Since chopsticks are used in pairs,
they make popular wedding gifts across
7 I Disposable chopsticks were used in
Japan as early as the 7th century.
8 I Chopsticks are used in fortune telling
and martial arts.
9 I Training chopsticks for children were
developed several decades ago in Japan.
The upper stick has rings to help
kids correctly place
their index and
10 I Chopsticks
vary in length. They
are 20 centimeters
(nearly 8 inches)
in Japan and 25
centimeters (nearly 10
inches) in China. ;
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Consumers Research Council of America
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