In much of Asia, especially the so-called “rice bowl” cultures of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, food is usually eaten with chopsticks.
Chopsticks are two long, thin, usually tapered, pieces of wood. Bamboo is the most common material, but they are also be made of various types of wood, as well as plastic, porcelain, animal bone, ivory, metal, coral, agate, and jade.
During the Middle Ages, aristocrats often favored silver chopsticks since it was thought that silver would turn color if it came into contact with poison.
The Chinese have been using chopsticks for five thousand years. People probably cooked their food in large pots, using twigs to remove it. Overtime, as population grew, people began chopping food into small pieces so it would cook more quickly. Small morsels of food could be eaten without knifes and so the twigs gradually turned into chopsticks.
Some people think that the great scholar Confucius, who lived from roughly 551 to 479 B.C., influenced the development of chopsticks. A vegetarian, Confucius believed knives would remind people of slaughterhouses and were too violent for use at the table.
Chopsticks are not used everywhere in Asia. In India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Central Asia most people have traditionally eaten with their hands.