China, Wang, Southeast Asia discussed on Bill Press
There is evidence to suggest five thousand BC is a is a possibility for early archaeological evidence of chopsticks. The I've also read some of these bone sticks from this time. And earlier may also be interpreted is hairpins or or tools of another sort. This is often a problem with technology is. It's not quite so clear. What you're really looking at clear that an artifact is not naturally occurring. It was shaped in some way, but what was used for not always clear, because this is ultimately, one of the confounding things about chopsticks. Is that it is relatively simple concept. You don't need anything beyond Neolithic technology to pull it off. And yet you don't see it emerging independently in other cultures. You know, ultimately, you just don't see taking off everywhere. But it but it is a, it's a cultural difference, and you see similar cultural differences in tool. Use among chimpanzees for instance nothing. So grand is says chopstick usage. You find chimpanzees. Inventing the chopsticks, but you will see similar a similar situation in things that are unessential behavior. You do not have to invent the chopstick in order to eat, and survive and develop all the other technologies that the culture may develop, but the but, but it is curious how we see the sticks emerge in China and spread out from China. But they don't independently emerge elsewhere, now as far as evidence that twigs were commonly used just snapped off branches and twigs commonly used for chopsticks Wang in his book sites literary evidence from the ancient world that it was common practice by the third or fourth century BC to snap pieces off the lower branches of a tree, and use them for chopsticks. For example, he cites a passage from Z who lived three forty two to forty five BC. And in John's e says this inservice of illustrating and unrelated point. So he's just like sort of using analogy here. But he says, if you look up at a forest from the foot of a hill, the bigger tree appear, no taller than chopsticks and yet. No one hoping to find chopsticks is likely to go picking among them. It is simply that the height obscures their natural dimensions. So he's not really talking about chopsticks in this passage, but it just sort of makes passing reference to the fact that you might go, quote, picking chopsticks. So we have in an ancient tool an ancient utensil for the preparation of food. The question then is how does it really leave the kitchen? How does it go from being just something that you use in the production of food to becoming the primary means of consuming said food because, for instance, you many was use a ladle in the kitchen, you know, or one of those deep-seated spoons that are that are just relating? Sup-. You probably don't use one at the dinner table. You probably don't use it to drink soup with a spider, straighter. Yeah. You could technically do it, but you probably don't. Speaking of soons spins in soup, though, Wayne gets into this, and he points out that the spoon was actually be most important eating implement for people in ancient east and southeast Asia can see that. I mean the spoons going to be common to pretty much every culture. Right. Because it is essentially just a retaining receptacle can move pretty much any kind of food. You could eat steak with the spoon, right? Yeah. It's actually if given the choice between a fork and spoon. I rarely pick the fork. I don't eat a lot of food that requires the stabbing four Kenny more. So I'm more than happy with the spoon. Just give me the spoon. I don't even want to look at the fourth of the anything I can do with the forecast, probably the spoon. And then, of course, I can do it even better the chopsticks, but the spoon was the most important eating implement for people in ancient east and southeast Asia. And this is backed up by both archaeological and text. Jewel accounts. And there are many reasons some of these with just hit on here, just the the ultimate practice the practicality of the spoon. But, but something else that Wang points out is that from antiquated up to the tenth century millet was the dominant grain cereal in north China Korea and parts of Japan, in this particular substances, best cooked into thick gruel that do the demands the attention of spoons rather than any other form of ten sle in boiling is key here because this was the age of boiling stews and soups, the this is what you ate chopsticks. They crept in is merely a supporting utensil that you might use to stir around the deaths to grab a few things out of the depths of your super Stu. But for the most part, you're gonna have to depend on it. Spoon by the century Wang writes wheat becomes the primary grain wheat noodles, wheat dumplings, and then chopsticks becoming streak streak important. Because these are these make it far. Easier to manipulate those noodles or were dumplings, if you've ever tried to eat especially noodles with a spoon, but even dumpling can become a complete comedy of errors if you're because dumpling contend to be a little slippery, and you're trying to balance it on the spoon. No, you better off grabbing it with the chopsticks and then from the eleventh century onward. He writes it rice, of course, becomes increasingly popular and since rice, clumps chopsticks can be used to great effect with them. Oh, yeah. And then and then in terms of boiling by the third century, he writes, that you point, you had cooking oils. Thanks to the millstone that, that allows you to break down the various seeds and whatnot that you're using to create that, that frying oil. So, yeah. You don't have to boil all of your ingredients. You can fry them in this means more reliance on bite-size ingredients rather than, you know, giant, you know, bones than meet that are dropped in with your vegetables for the stew. Yeah. And though, of course, not all say Chinese cooking is stir fries were familiar with whatever that is one common feature of many Chinese recipes is things. You know, not a big hunk of meat on the plate, but things sliced into bite sized pieces. And the other thing about bite size pieces is that they cook faster. They require less fuel this becomes more and more important, many commentators touch upon as as fuel becomes an issue, right? In Chinese civilization. There were points where suddenly like firewood is more expensive harder to come by. Yeah. So what are you going to cook? You're gonna cook a giant slab of meat or you're gonna cook little slivers of meat that have been prepared, of course, in the kitchen in fried up, and you can manipulate them with your sticks, while they're cooking. And then, of course when it comes time to eat. It is also the perfect implement to employ weighing also points out that in pre modern times. Chopsticks also cut down on the risk of germs in communal eating. Oh, that's an interesting point. So, yeah, people are say, picking dumplings out of a shared dish. You don't have to reach in there with you dirty hands. You can pluck them out precisely with chopsticks now. It's important to note in all of this, we again, we can't simply say that people created chopsticks in this age or do they begin to actually eat with them in another age. There's a lot of gradual change going on here and there are some notable ancient accounts of accounts or legends or myths. So what have you of eating with? Chopsticks. And that's what we have to discuss the lavish lifestyle of king Zhou of the Shang dynasty. He would have lived ten seventy five ten forty six BC, okay. Taking their take me to this ancient binge. He's best remembered as what's the term party animal, definitely a party animal real ah Bluto a real. Yeah. He he loved his, his food. He loves the flesh. And, and so we have to keep that in mind that, like how much of this is accurate. How much of this isn't as an actual ruler, who would decadent lifestyle and how much of this is, of course, just attributed to somebody who fell out of the good graces of history. But so okay if he's if he's a party animal Z party with chopsticks he does. He was said to have always eaten with an ornate pair of ivory chopstick glow. And he wouldn't it was, it was strongly stressed that he wouldn't eat out of just earthenware bowls. Like the rest of the people know, he would only eat from bowls of Jade, and rhino. Horn rhino horn. Now we've talked before on different show on stuff to blow your mind about ancient beliefs concerning the powers of the rhino horn, especially as it concerned, people who were concerned with being poisoned, like royalty, right. Yeah. And then j, of course, also has magical properties in in Chinese tradition. So. It makes sense that, that he would only eat from these because they would have been reputed to have some sort of focus on few food purification poison prevention, chopsticks would later go on to become a symbol of decadent life and corrupt politics. But it went far beyond that with, with king. Joe, he said to have had his own, quote, alcohol pool and meet forest. Still, the name of my restaurant. I can't open it, now it does remind me of some of these more decadent steak restaurants where they bring around like skewers of meat, because this is described as a centrally a lake of wine, and you would vote around in, you know, with your concubines in, in your pals, and as your boating around drinking from the wine lake you would also cuts of meat from the roasting pillars that are around you like a forest, this is like a satanic, Charlie and the chocolate factory. This like unholy version of the chocolate rivers. He is also said to have delighted in eating quote, the meat of longhaired buffaloes and unborn leopards. I have no comment on that decadent diet to have, you know, only the, the weirdest strangest it's like Monty burns on the Simpsons wanting to, to wear the, the pelts of various exotic and endangered animals. Oh, yes. My best. Yes. Chopstick etiquette time. We just gotta have that jump in and invade whatever we were talking about, right? Just it will properly upset, most people if you're eating unborn leopards, but also a point of etiquette here. Never point your sticks at someone really. If you're brandishing them at the table, you know, keep the keep the direction down toward the food this generally advised. And also never stick your chopsticks upright. In a bowl of rice is this is a portent of death. Yes, I've heard that this is because chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, can resemble, sticks of incense, or chopsticks that are set up right in rice in funeral ceremony? Oh, this makes this. This is something that would be very easy to miss for say, a westerner traveling in China, which is why you see it cited and a lot of travel books, not do this. This is an easy thing that you cannot do and save yourself some grief. I always wonder about that kind of stuff when you see etiquette cited in books. For travelers like is this a real rule or not? I feel like when you read those things you've got to be reading some real common etiquette guidelines mixed in with things that people just made up. Well, I guess it depends on the, the faux pas there warning against because some of them are more widespread and more central to a given culture. Like, I think of various taboos concerning shoes Thailand, if you're seated so that your, your shoes pointed against somebody or, or certainly any kind of situation where your shoes or placed saying been at an airport with other belongings that we need to save that for episode in the invention of shoes. Seventy.