In ancient times, Chinese ancestors liked to steam or boil food. It was difficult for them to use spoons to dip vegetables in the soup, so they cleverly invented chopsticks to nip food, thus it has become the most useful piece of tableware in China.
The development of chopsticks has experienced a long history. Early in Xia Dynasty (21st - 16th century BC), the shape was still in development. Chopsticks only became two sticks of the same length in the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC). In the late Shang Dynasty, the tyrannical King Zhou ordered his craftsmen to make chopsticks from elephants' teeth, which was seen to be as luxurious in the early history of Chinese food culture.
The appearance of chopsticks meant that the days when our Chinese ancestors had to use their hands to eat disappeared, so they represented the coming of civilisation to food culture. The invention comes with many scientific theories. The mechanical principle of a lever was put into practice with chopsticks as there was a point where two sticks crossed, considered to be the pivot of the lever.
Chinese people are familiar with the use of chopsticks. Many foreigners are interested in them but are also puzzled about how to use them effectively. Here are some notes you'd better remember when to use it. First, you must hold the upper stick and don't cross it. Second, hold it with your thumb, index finger, middle finger and third finger. One stick is against your third finger and the other leans on your middle finger. Third, when you pick vegetable or meat from the dish, use your index finger and middle finger to control the sticks. The important thing to remember is that practise makes perfect so naturally, the more you use them, the more your technique will improve.
The use of chopsticks is a major part of Chinese food culture. There are some taboos that you must pay great attention to, or you may make mistakes and be laughed at.
It's important to note that to hit the side of your bowl or plate to make a lot of noise is to be avoided because Chinese people think only beggars do this when begging for food.
Try avoiding stretching out your index finger, as this is regarded as a kind of accusation to others. Using them as a tool to point to other people with is also considered rude.
Thirdly, it is thought to be impolite when you suck the end of a chopstick. People will think you lack family education.
Fourthly, don't poke and touch every dish without knowing what you want.
Finally, don't insert them vertically into the bowls or dishes. Chinese people do this only when they burn incense to sacrifice the dead.
Nowadays, chopsticks serve many new functions besides tableware as they make good gift for friends and relatives. In Chinese, it reads 'Kuaizi', which means "to have sons soon", so a newly-married couple would gladly accept them as a wedding gift. Skillful craftsmen painted beautiful sceneries on chopsticks to turn them into fine pieces of art. Also, an interesting experiment showed that many joints and muscles are being exercised when you use them, a great deal more than when using a knife and fork.
Chopsticks maybe small but they are adored by many people around the world and are an extremely important part of the Chinese food culture.