When I am on tour I usually carry a plate, a bowl, and a set of utensils, wrapped furoshiki-style in a cloth, in my suitcase. In some venues the caterers use plastic, even though we ask them not to in our contract rider, and I can avoid the waste by bringing my own. A pair of chopsticks is always in my backpack. For about a decade I have carried around an older version of these chopsticks, made by Snow Peak – see also this post about their coffee mug. There is an old post from May 2007 … and a photo on Flickr – remember Flickr?? These new Snow Peak chopsticks are made with metal handles and bamboo tips, but my older model used discarded baseball bats instead of bamboo. I like them because they collapse, which I didn’t figure out right away… (Matt, didn’t you show me this?)
Snow Peak also has silicon tipped steel chopsticks, and a quick search on Amazon will show that you can buy 5 pairs of stainless steel chopsticks for about $7. In other words, there are many alternatives to those throw-away chopsticks, made out of bamboo or wood, that are used in most Asian restaurants – except in Korean restaurants, where they use steel chopsticks. Consider taking your own chopsticks next time.
More about chopsticks…
Chinese chopsticks are the longest and are very useful for snatching that last dumpling from the lazy susan in the middle of the table. Japanese chopsticks are the shortest, perhaps because in Japan one usually lifts a bowl up when taking food from it, which means reach isn’t important. Korean chopsticks are unique in all of Asia, because they are flat and made from metal.
And why oh why do restaurants still serve water with a plastic straw, without asking? That happened to me several times on tour last month – I learned to request “no straw” before even sitting down. If you love straws, why not bring your own?
PS: I often eat potato chips with chopsticks, especially when I don’t want to mess up my hands because I am reading a book…. :-)