Asia, Joe Mccormack, Canada discussed on Bill Press

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Hey welcome to invention my name is robert lamp and i'm joe mccormack i have to admit that i love chopsticks and kind of embarrassing and naive way like one of my favorite things about about eating several different kinds of asian food is using chopsticks to eat them i love like chinese noodles with chopsticks i love eating sushi with chopsticks though sometimes i just eat sushi with my hands as as you often do yeah but i love using chopsticks i love it almost as much as i love the food itself but i have found very strangely that i have a psychological block against using chopsticks on ethnic cuisines with which they do not originally a pair so i love using chopsticks and i want any excuse to use them but i've tried to eat spaghetti with them with leggings tornado basil sauce and it does not work it is psychologically revolting but this is ridiculous when you start getting into the deeper history of any nation's cuisine where do you think those those noodles spaghetti and italian spaghetti came from that's a good point came from the east they they came from the land of chopsticks and of course one of the things we're going to get into in this episode is that you know there was a time before widespread chopstick usage in asia there was a time before widespread noodle and dumpling consumption in asia and it's all part of the history of how we eat our food and what we eat right so today's episode is going to be about chopstick technology right so everyone i think is familiar with chopsticks we don't have to really explain these too much but it does allow an amazing amount of precision i remember at an early age i was really impressed by chopsticks in part because you know we would go to little chinese restaurants in the in the states and when my family was living in canada one of my father's co workers Was a Chinese Canadian physician and he would use chopsticks and he would let us use chopsticks, and there was a story he told when he was a child. If you missed behaved his mother would dump a small bowl of uncooked rice out under the table. Give him a pair of chopsticks. And then he would have to move each grain of rice with the chopsticks a back into the bowl, that is amazing because that sounds like a punishment straight out of a fairytale. Doesn't it? that that's like a that's like a cinderella type punishment but chopsticks they are exactly the tool you would want to use to to carry out this task i mean they they're just so precise they even beat a human fingers in many instances if not in precision than at least intact right because it allows you to too much of our our our use of utensils it's about how do you eat the food effectively but also in a way that doesn't insult the people that you're eating with likewise if you're eating hot food which is been popular in human culture it it it it moves you to be able to handle that food without burning your fingers and chopsticks allow you to do that yeah one thing is certain no when i'm using chopsticks and think about i mean just always impressing these are great and i do feel that temptation to want to use them on other foods and really about the only foods that i when i think about it they don't make sense for so much our foods that require a great deal of cutting and carving you know as i'm thinking like if you're eating a steak you would need a knife now i guess you could you could use a knife and shot sticks and that would that would work but for the most part chopsticks are going to are going to get you there with just about any food you know when you mentioned paring knife with chopsticks there at least once was a product called fork and knife chopsticks this there's like a a promo obnoxious comedy promo video that used to go around the internet actually it was a video where hilarity ensues win some caucasian gentlemen is trying to eat something with chopsticks he just keeps dropping it all over himself and other muslim there's got to be a better way and the better way is that the other side of these chopsticks are four kind of knife so you can flip them around see it i i bet you meant that you're using them like chopsticks but then it has a tiny tiny knife on the end flip them around okay no yeah so it stick party in front four connive business and back and actually they would like they would sorta hook together to make hinged chopsticks which are not exactly traditional chopsticks okay well that's not the worst invention i suppose no the the promo videos really obnoxious but the invention is fine though it looks like it's been discontinued or at least from the original seller as far as i could tell chopsticks themselves however of course are still very much in production they have not been discontinued there's no sign of chopsticks going away anytime soon in fact i think i read about a problem with billions of disposable chopsticks being used every year if anything the the big take home is if you like using chopsticks if you find yourself regularly using chopsticks invest in a in a set of chopsticks mobile set that you can carry around and use it home and cut down on the on the disposable chopsticks now where did chopsticks come from well they came from china and And is is we were talking about with our researcher for this program. Scott benjamin. they propped up prior to twelve hundred b._c. though some sources say they've been around for nearly nine thousand years but this is this is cooking utensils away of moving ingredients around and hot walked for instance but it when it comes to the use of chopsticks at the dinner table or as a means of bringing through to your mouth sometimes you see it stated that we're really looking at more four hundred see as kind of a rough very rough time stamp for when it really began to become more popular and begin to spread culturally the idea that these are utensils that should be used to consume food as well now is we'll get into this this is not a very not super firm time stamp it's not like you will not find people eating with chopsticks before that point but this seems to be where the levy really breaks on the idea people do like like to come up with origin stories for things so even when there isn't a clear origin story well that's often part of the fun right is that there's not a there's not an actual inventor but there's a mythic character that had some sort of role in the invention some sort of cultural hero who stole fire from the gods etcetera exactly so we were both looking at a book robert i think you actually read the whole book to yeah it's it's a short read actually something like two hundred and something pages it's book by hugh edward wang that is called chopsticks a cultural and culinary history published in two thousand fifteen from cambridge university press and wine points out that a common chinese legend tells the story of how chopsticks were first invented by dr you founder of the shot dynasty which ruled from twenty one hundred to sixteen hundred b._c. and i've poked around for a couple of versions of this legend basically the story goes like this die you was the figure credited with fight getting the great flood of chinese history and mythology by the use of dredging in the riverbeds and construction of irrigation canals to divert water flow a robber you've talked about the chinese great flood legends on podcast before yeah and you definitely comes up in that episode and because he's a he's a true cultural hero in chinese mythology and the if i'm remembering correctly the the knowledge to to to overcome the flood was was actually stolen or obtained from the gods i think by us father and then you himself is the one who really brings it to the people i think that's correct but so you eventually succeeds in defeating the great flood and this made him emperor and founder of the shadow minister but there are lots of stories and legends about how much he sacrificed personally and how tirelessly he worked on this project to to defeat the floodwaters and one of these legends is the die you had one point heads some sizzling and a walk but he was in such a hurry to fight the flood that he couldn't sit there and wait for the meat to cool down enough to handle an eat so he got a pair of twigs and he used them to pick up the hot pieces of meat and hurry along as meals so we get back to work but clearly this is just a legend but it's still there it does it will straight like the basic clever idea that the novelty of using just some twigs and sticks but using them using found objects but us them in an inventive way that changes the way you do things and this is this is likely exactly how chopsticks emerged in just the the darkness of prehistory is the use of found twigs maybe the tweets within manipulated in some fashion but for the most part just a couple of found sticks that are used to manipulate food inside of a cooking pot or also the use of fire sticks which would just be chopsticks that are used for moving the burning wood or coal around now one thing that i think is interesting about chopsticks that is different from the use of say a fork or knife or even i mean sort of like a spoon but also somewhat different from a spoon is that chopsticks in a way function sort of like extensions of the fingers yeah you know they do a similar pinching action that you can do with your thumb and index finger but they you know they extend the fingers farther they can handle hot stuff without getting greece on the fingers and all that they can reach into soup and pull out noodles they they can do all that kind of stuff but they in a way feel like a more natural extension of the pinching grasping action of the skeleton itself they feel like more like they emerge out of the scheme of the human body than say a knife which you know you don't have a knife in you don't have any sharp fingers you don't have four really there's no stabbing sharp tines on your hand and there's just nothing analogous to a knife and a fork on your body this makes me realize that in gra- granted i i definitely use for can knife more than i use chopsticks and i am not by any means you know a an expert practitioner with chopsticks but i do feel like i am far more likely to bumble and drop fork knife or spoon than i am to bumble and drop my chopsticks like the chopsticks to your point are just more an extension of your body when you're using them now obviously if you're looking for ancient artifacts ancient evidence of chopsticks just standard twigs aren't gonna stick around very well right so you'd you'd be looking probably for chopsticks or indications that chopsticks were made out of other materials right so for instance you will find bronze chopsticks or what are believed to be chopsticks in the tombs of the of the ruins of yin.

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