My fascination for chopsticks goes all the way back to the first time I entered a dimsum restaurant in Cebu City. Ding How Dimsum Restaurant at the Ludo and Luym Bldg in downtown Cebu was the best Chinese Restaurant at the time. On special Sundays our family went there for lunch after mass.
Of course there were spoons and forks on the table, but there would also be chopsticks, plastic ones the shade of ivory, adorned with red and green Chinese characters at the thicker ends. And I thought why should I eat with spoon and fork when there are chopsticks and everyone else (well, the Chinese diners anyway) were using them. So I started to learn to use them, guessing at first, and then following the how-to’s I found in books and magazines. There was a time when I practiced with a pair of barbecue sticks after eating the banana cue’s off them, so that when the time came I made a trip to Hong Kong, I ate at the lauriat like a natural (or so I’d like to think).
I got to the point when people who would be going abroad would ask me what I want for pasalubong and I would say “chopsticks”, even if the person would be going to Hannover, Germany. My friend and erstwhile co-worker Elaine came through though; after her stint at the Messe in 1997 she took a sidetrip to San Francisco USA and came back, as requested with a pair of chopsticks for me. That pair, light blue with darker blue daisies at the thicker end, is now a bit worse for wear and has been retired.
The ones pictured above are, from left: a set flown in from Singapore by my co-worker Gerald, from former co-worker Elyse who now works there. The next two are wooden ones, gifts from different occasions from friends. The next two in pockets with the elephants are from Sam’s trip to Thailand sometime in 2000. The two black ones are from a set I bought last Chinese new year. The next one in a woven container are from another of Sam’s trip to Thailand, and the last one a gift from my cousin who spent a few years working in Japan. Those used to be a his and hers pair, until I misplaced the hers. I also have a stainless flat pair with matching spoon (not in picture) and a few plastic ones I took home from eating at old Chinese restaurants.
I’ve seen jade and ivory chopsticks at antique shops and old curio shops but my collector’s feel for them has not reached that level as of yet. What I’d like to be able to do is go to every Asian country and bring back a few pairs peculiar to that country.