With truly ancient roots in history, chopsticks have been used for over 5,000 years. Originating in China, these slim and elegant eating utensils were actually first used primarily as kitchen tools. Chopsticks later spread to Japan and Korea, and eventually Southeast Asia.
It’s often thought that the teachings of one of China’s greatest philosophers, Confucius, may have helped solidify the ascent of chopsticks. A vegetarian, he was a strong advocate of leaving sharp utensils off the dinner table, and using chopsticks, which instead represented benevolence and gentleness.
Chopsticks have long been made out of many different materials, but bamboo remains the most common, preferred since it does not conduct heat, nor does it hold any odors or tastes. Various materials, such as ivory, bronze and gold, came into use with different Chinese dynasties. During the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1050 BC), the King and Queen favored ivory chopsticks since ivory was the most valuable material available. Bronze chopsticks were used during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC – 771 BC), while lacquered chopsticks were popular during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). Gold and silver came into use during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), and silver was highly prized by royalty – it was believed that the silver would corrode and turn black if the food had been poisoned.
The shape and length of chopsticks also vary according to region and country. For example, Japanese chopsticks are typically shorter, with tapered ends and are often lacquered, while Chinese chopsticks are usually longer and end in blunt, flat tips.
The next time you’re on board, visit Red Ginger and choose from Oceania Cruises’ special selection of chopsticks to enjoy an unforgettable meal.