What Are Silver Chopsticks?
Silver chopsticks are chopsticks made from silver. They can be found as table settings in several Asian nations, and people may also use them for formal Asian-style dinners in other regions of the world. Asian markets and specialty importers can often obtain silver chopsticks for people who want them, and in some cases, they may be passed down as family heirlooms, just like silver flatware in the West. They can also be custom made by a metal smith upon request.
There are a number of reasons to use silver for chopsticks. As in the West, silver is associated with formal dining, making these chopsticks a specialty item which may be brought out on special occasions and for special guests. Silver has a nice weight and balance which can lend a weight of gravity and formality to the occasion, and chopsticks made from silver may be simple, with smooth surfaces and clean lines, or more ornate.
Some people have personal chopsticks made from silver which they may eat with most meals or even carry with them. Historically, silver chopsticks were used in some parts of China out of fear of poison. According to popular belief, these chopsticks would rapidly tarnish in the presence of poison, so someone who feared poisoning would carry silver chopsticks as a form of poison detection. Royalty ate from silver for this reason as well.
In the modern era, poisoning is not a large concern for most diners, with chopsticks made of silver being used for formality, or out of tradition. The chopsticks may be solid silver, or silver accents may be used on chopsticks made from other materials, such as wood. The pattern can also be coordinated with silver serving utensils such as spoons for communal dishes and soups, for people who like their tableware to match.
Like other silver tableware, silver chopsticks require some special care. They should always be washed by hand and dried promptly to reduce the risk of tarnish and spotting, and it is a good idea to store them in a protective case. The case will reduce tarnish, nicks, and scratching, in addition to keeping the chopsticks secure when they are not in use. If these chopsticks are used with extremely acidic foods, special care should be taken when washing them. It is also important to buy chopsticks which have not been blended with lead or coated in toxic substances, a problem in the case of some inexpensive styles.
I'm a woman of European descent and I've been told I use chopsticks quite well. But I am never given them at events. In fact, sometimes my hosts have been quite flustered trying to find me a "suitable" implement. They are usually quite pleased when I take up the chopsticks.
At first I was a little bit offended by this, but I was told by an older Japanese woman that she didn't think her grandchildren even knew how to use chopsticks. It isn't seen as the thing to do anymore in some countries where it used to be standard.
She thought her silver chopsticks would probably end up being kept only as a souvenir of times gone past.
@KoiwiGal - I have a few silver pairs of chopsticks for special occasions, but I use heavy plastic chopsticks for every day use. They wear quite well and they weren't at all expensive to buy.
I'm not sure whether they are going to be recyclable, but they are probably still better than using disposables.
One thing I would recommend is getting chopsticks with a rough edge to them, particularly if you are a beginner. Even silver chopsticks need to be able to grip the food if they are going to have any kind of practical use.
Silver chopsticks are a good investment because they are quite hard wearing and you don't have to worry about buying more, like you would with wooden chopsticks.
Wooden chopsticks might not seem like they are using up much wood, but so many pairs are used and then thrown away in countries around the world each day that they actually make quite a large impact on the environment.
If you don't want to invest in silver chopsticks, you might prefer to get stainless steel chopsticks, which are even more hard wearing and easy to care for.
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