Chopsticks and congugation

Thursday, we learned an entire grammar principle based on being indirect and politely declining or delivering a “no” without hurting the other person’s feelings. In my American mind, this grammar sounds ruder than directly saying,

“Hey, I’m meeting my brother to go to the movies. Catch you next week.”

But no, there’s an entire verb conjugation built around being round-about.

We also learned food customs this week. For example, in Korea—

  • don’t start eating before the eldest at the table begins
  • for sure, don’t leave your seat before that eldest finishes
  • use your chopsticks for side dishes and spoons for rice and soup
  • your soup sits to the right of your rice
  • lay your chopsticks to rest parallel to your body like this ||
  • don’t lift your bowl to your mouth = bad manners
  • with friends and family, share the gigantic plate of whatever you ordered. double-dipping’s no problem, though you might not do this the first time you meet someone

Half of our class are Japanese students. So we learned that in Japan, there is no double-dipping. “Ewww,” say the Japanese. (I like double-dipping.) And in Japan, by all means, lift your bowl to your mouth. It would be ruder to lower your head to your bowl on the table.

And different from Korea, lay your chopsticks to rest perpendicularly like this ==

Our Hong Kong classmate shared that in her region, you eat your soup before or after your meal not with, as in Korea.

Whatever you do while eating in east Asia, don’t stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice. That’s the food equivalent of saying “bloody mary” in front of your bathroom mirror.

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