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Metal chopsticks (Korean eating utensils)

Metal Chopsticks.

It’s not exactly a Korean meal without the deliciousness touching a little stainless steel. The evolution of the chopstick is here and now. Gone are the wasteful wooden or flimsy plastic sticks. We’re talking streamlined cutlery goodness: Chopsticks 2.0 for the masses.

Korean Chopsticks Metal Steel

For sure, it’s a curious conversation topic for some time now. But, truly, the history behind such a common eating utensil is actually pretty interesting. Enough to make a great lesson plan with some great facts at the end (take note of page three). In fact, it’s been rumored that former President 박정희 (Park Chung-Hee) is credited with introducing metal chopsticks to Korea.

I would venture to guess that many Westerners would never think twice about why the chopsticks are made of metal and why the type of rice eaten might determine the type of chopsticks used. For that matter, it’s a stretch for the common Westerner to know the difference between short and long grained rice. Myself included. But, it’s not so strange to think about the evolution of American utensils. The steak knife, anyone?

Another explanation is that before the modern stainless steel chopsticks were introduced, silver was used. According to myth, silver chopsticks would tarnish if poison was found in the King’s food. Therefore, it was not just economical but for safety sake. Leave it up to Koreans to think of a better way of testing of poisoned food. Didn’t the royal courts of the Dark Ages have royal food testers? What a crummy job to get off of Ye Olde Craigslist.

But what about the wee ones? Don’t they already have it rough enough? I mean it seems that all they hear is leave that alone, don’t pick that up, don’t put that in your mouth, and why is your face turning blue? but now we have to add to that equation the seemingly impossible of learning to use metal chopsticks, which if you haven’t used them, tend to be on the slippery side. But, like tiny masters of their craft, they get good real quick, or else that sweet sweet 김치 goes uneaten. A powerful motivator indeed.

Korean Children Eating Chopsticks Metal Slippery

Metal chopsticks are here to stay and they are awesome. Glad I’m not the only one whop thinks they are flippin sweet. They’re more economical, washable, designable, and elegant than their wooden brethren. I suppose plastic comes in at second place, but really? Who wants the silver medal when it comes to food?