no wonder they’re so skinny

19 Feb

Back in the USA, I always considered myself to be pretty adept with chopsticks. At times, I’ve even felt a little bit cocky about it, I’ll admit.

I now realize that this was a vanity-fueled delusion. I was very good at using chopsticks to eat beef with broccoli, or sushi. I could manage rice with a certain amount of success, as well as noodles, although I always ended up slurping. Last night, I had to attempt to eat a fried drumstick with chopsticks. In polite company. Chinese people can do this, no problem. Chinese toddlers can do this. I cannot.

I also cannot pick up nian gao (think stringy rice jello–but delicious!), dumplings, or wontons, as all of these foods tend to be quite slippery. I’ve developed a technique where, on the side of the dumpling closest to my body, I stab one chopstick into it, basically skewering it. Then I use my other chopstick normally on the other side of the food and lift it to my mouth, carefully keeping the inserted chopstick turned toward me so that my table mates don’t know I’m cheating at chopstick usage. This is vanity, again–although they might find it amusing, no one here would be offended in any way if I couldn’t use chopsticks. They would probably even dig up a fork, if I asked.

Another difficulty is serving myself using chopsticks. I can pick up one snow pea, no problem. The transport of a portion of snow peas from a serving dish to my plate, however, is problematic. Since meals are served family-style, when the snow peas are passed my way and I move a serving of 20-30 peas to my plate one at a time, I hold everyone up.

I’m getting better, though. I’m hoping that, by the time I return to the states, I’ll be able use chopsticks to catch a fly in midair, Karate Kid-style.


5 Responses to “no wonder they’re so skinny”

  1. Betsy February 20, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Hey sis, do you need me to send you one of those chopstick helper things they have at Noodles? Not sure if it would allow the chopsticks to expand to to the width of a drumstick. On the other hand, glad you could have a drumstick without having to butcher, de-feather, and cook the chicken by yourself. Mom had me worried with a 30 minute conversation on how they will sell you your live chickens and that you will never be eating chicken there in China. You know how she is 🙂 She said Texas surely can’t be that bad because at least the chicken comes in little trays already butchered so I should get over myself (the basic gist). MISS YOU. Lets try to video chat so we can see each other!

    • Erin February 20, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

      I am actually getting pretty damn good with the chopsticks! And they do sell these funny chopstick things for kids, to help them learn, but I hope I’m beyond that!

      Today was the first day I cooked for myself, and it was kind of crazy. When I go to the store, the only things I’m 100% sure of are vegetables. So today I ate eggplant and carrot stirfry with a little garlic. That’s it. I need to find someone to go grocery shopping with me and explain what some of the stuff is!

      You will be fine in Texas. Trust me, you can do it.

  2. Kathy February 20, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    You will be able to outshine all of us!

    • Erin February 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

      I hope so, or I’m going to starve to death!

  3. Jessica March 2, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Oh Lord, I am USELESS with chopsticks! I can’t manage anything beyond broccoli and the slurping noodles. Rice is already far too advanced. Glad to know that you are making quick progress!

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