The television set in our kitchen/family room purred softly in the background while I prepared dinner tonight. I glanced up to see what the characters were up to on the NCIS rerun. Leroy Jethro Gibbs and the Lieutenant Colonel were eating Chinese takeout. That’s when the question came to mind.
Have you ever noticed that on any television program that shows a couple of characters eating takeout Chinese, they ALL deftly use chopsticks? Is this an unwritten rule for script writers? Check it out for yourself. Think about any television program. For that matter, go back in memory and think of any movie you’ve seen using Chinese food. All of the characters will be expertly using chopsticks. Now that I think about it, you never see them eating IN a Chinese restaurant. It’s always takeout with the chopsticks.
If we were talking about a Chinese couple it wouldn’t be worthy of comment. But how many Italian-Americans, or Greek-Americans, or any other non-Oriental American do you personally know who have mastered the art of using chopsticks instead of a fork. I can’t think of anybody (except an old, ex-husband, who basically thought he could do anything!)
I have tried, on many occasions, to use chopsticks. Holding them is the first step, and even that is hard to do. I watch carefully as I’m told how to position them just so, resting on certain fingers. Once I have that under control, I try to actually grip a bit of food with the darned things. That’s when it all goes bad. Usually the two chopsticks bounce against one another and send the food particle flying away from me and my mouth. I hate the look I get from the waiter. It’s that “Tsk, tsk” thing they do with their eyes when you are so obviously not going to actually deliver food to your mouth. With an smug sigh, they set a fork down beside you, knowing that’s the only way you are ever going to finish the meal. Well, either that or use your fingers.
Just once, I want to see a television program where at least one of the characters shows no ability to consume a meal with chopsticks. I want her to look at her companion and say, “Seriously? You really expect me to use these things for something besides sticking in my hair?”
That, I’ll believe!