October 13, 2008

The Chopstick Issue

I could write about a lot of things that are meaningful and pressing. Perhaps I could examine the state of the US economy or the upcoming election. But I won’t. Instead I’ll discuss something that has weighed on my mind as of late and must be said before the vein in my head explodes.*

I live in the United States of America. One of the perks of living in this country is that you can find any kind of restaurant you want: Italian, German, Irish, Chinese—take your pick. Among my favorites are Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Yet every time I’m in one I am confronted with the same question:

Why are they using chopsticks?

By “they” I mean the other patrons. Why are half of them using chopsticks when forks are readily available? Do they not realize they are in the US? Do they think the forks are there for decoration? Or do they think everyone else is impressed with their skill? Because we’re not.

Listen, if you’re trying to get the full “Asian” experience, then you’re going to have to eat somewhere else. Because I hate to break it to you, but that General Tso’s chicken you’re eating at the Happy Panda is not real Chinese food.

I’d like to take a poll to find out what chopstick users have in common with other chopstick users. I’m willing to bet that a lot of them only use Macs**, have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks and subscribe to (but don’t read) The New Yorker. They might also drive Volkswagons.

Then again, maybe there are two types of chopstick users—the yuppies (the Mac users) and the posers. The posers are hoping you’ll comment about their chopstick use so they have an excuse to tell you about their trip to China (or Chinatown).

Maybe I’ll start talking in an Italian accent whenever I go to an Italian restaurant or insist on drinking my chosen beverage from a steinkrug if I go to a German restaurant. That wouldn’t be ridiculous at all.


*I don’t actually have a vein like that. I had a seventh grade English teacher who did, though.
**If I had an extra $1,000 lying around, I’d go buy a MacBook right now. I want one like the desert misses the rain. So using only a Mac isn’t a bad thing—but only using chopsticks in an Asian-American restaurant is.

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