How to Use Chopsticks when in Singapore

A trip to Singapore gives people a chance to eat some truly amazing food. The food of Singapore is influenced by both nearby countries and by cuisines from around the world. All of these foods are tied together to help Singapore create their own unique cuisine. While it is fun to experience the taste of the foods in Singapore, it is also fun to attempt to eat the food  with chopsticks.

The traditional way to eat food in Singapore is with chopsticks. Although chopsticks are the traditional utensil used, the influence of the western culture has led to more people turning to forks and spoons. It is acceptable to eat with these utensils, but for those up to the challenge, chopsticks are a  more convenient. In order to use chopsticks properly, it is important to learn about them and how to properly use them so you do not embarrass yourself.

What Chopsticks are for

The first thing to learn is what the chopsticks are used for. They are considered an eating utensil in Singapore. They should be treated in the same way that other eating utensils are. They should be clean and they should be used for dining purposes. Chopsticks are not supposed to be used for things such as pointing at others at the table and they are not something to play with while eating. When I was younger my siblings and I would use them as swords and fight each other at the table, obviously this isn’t appropriate at any age.

Eating with chopsticks requires practice, but it is important to learn what should be eaten with chopsticks and what should not be eaten. It might seem like chopsticks cannot be used to eat soup, but this is not entirely true. The chopsticks are used to put the rice on the spoon and pick up noodles from soup. Chopsticks are designed to pick up food. They are not designed to be skewers or to poke food with.

It is okay to pick up a piece of food that is too large to eat in one bite. The large piece of food can be picked up with the chopsticks and a bite taken out of it. The uneaten portion of the food can be returned to the plate.

Chopsticks are not tools for digging. It is not proper to try to dig through a dish of food with the chopsticks to find the food that you want to eat. The chopsticks are also designed to handle food. They should not be used to move plates or bowls on the table.

Many meals in Singapore are served family style. Chopsticks can be  used to move the food from the serving bowl to the plate. They should never be used to eat the food directly from a shared plate. When taking the food, reverse the chopsticks and use the back ends to take the food.

It is not polite to take food from another person’s chopsticks. If they offer the food with their chopsticks, use a bowl or plate to put the food on.

What to do with the Chopsticks?

Another important aspect of chopsticks is what to do with them when you are not using them to handle food. It is not polite to suck on the chopsticks. It is also very wrong to lick the chopsticks. This may be taken as a sexual innuendo by some people.

When the chopsticks are not in use they should be placed next to each other on a chopstick rest. If a chopstick rest is not available the package that the chopsticks came in is an acceptable substitute. When the meal is finished the chopsticks should be rested across the empty plate.

One of the more unusual things to know about chopsticks is that they should not be left straight up in a bowl. This is a way that food is offered to the dead and is not proper etiquette at the dining table.

It may seem like a lot of rules to learn and that may be why many visitors to Singapore do not try to use the chopsticks. The key to chopsticks is not to let fear be the reason that you do not try them. The people of Singapore are often happy to teach people how to use the chopsticks properly.