Chopsticks : A Cultural and Culinary History

3.52 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
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Chopsticks have become a quintessential part of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean culinary experience across the globe, with more than one fifth of the world's population using them daily to eat. In this vibrant, highly original account of the history of chopsticks, Q. Edward Wang charts their evolution from a simple eating implement in ancient times to their status as a much more complex, cultural symbol today. Opening in the Neolithic Age, at the first recorded use of chopsticks, the book surveys their practice through Chinese history, before exploring their transmission in the fifth century to other parts of Asia, including Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Mongolia. Calling upon a striking selection of artwork, the author illustrates how chopstick use has influenced Asian cuisine, and how, in turn the cuisine continues to influence chopstick use, both in Asia and across the globe.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 32 colour illus.
  • 1139161857
  • 9781139161855

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Why chopsticks? Their origin and original function; 3. Dish, rice or noodle? The changing use of chopsticks; 4. Forming a chopsticks cultural sphere: Vietnam, Japan, Korea and beyond; 5. Using chopsticks: customs, manners and etiquette; 6. A pair inseparable: chopsticks as gift, metaphor and symbol; 7. 'Bridging' food cultures in the world; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

'Questions you would have never thought to ask are expertly answered in this timely volume. The pages and chapters bring to light unique facets of Chinese life that are usually reserved for interrogation by focusing on the Chinese written language as a special East Asian 'cultural sphere'. By addressing chopsticks Wang neatly augments that sphere by adding culinary history to the cultural mix.' Benjamin A. Elman, Princeton University, New Jersey 'With just the right dose of theorization, this lucidly written, neatly organized, astutely conceived and studiously researched book delivers to the table a well-presented smorgasbord of a general history of chopsticks.' On-cho Ng, Pennsylvania State University 'This is a highly readable and well-presented book of material and cultural history, providing a whole picture of chopsticks over one and a half billion people in Asia and elsewhere use every day.' Di Wang, Texas A & M University 'This is a fascinating work of cultural history, and may be the first time that chopsticks have been the subject of historical and cultural research of this calibre. Professor Q. Edward Wang discusses the unique cultures of China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam through the origins, uses and culinary customs of chopsticks. He also examines East Asian lifestyles and societies through the use of chopsticks as gifts, symbols and metaphors. The scope of this work crosses the boundaries of history, society and culture.' Ge Zhaoguang, Fudan University, China 'How did chopsticks become an essential component in the dining cultures of contemporary China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia, constituting a distinct chopsticks cultural sphere? Gracefully commanding rich literary and archaeological evidence, historian Wang provides a nuanced account of the evolution of the utensil from its origins in ancient China millennia ago and incorporation into the daily lives of China's neighboring regions since the fifth century, to chopsticks' encounter with an even-wider world in recent centuries. ... Well written, with a personal touch that makes for interesting reading, the book will entertain both popular readers and experts, and will enrich collections on premodern China, East Asian history and civilization, and food culture and food technology. Summing up: highly recommended. All levels/libraries.' L. Ma, Choice
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Rating details

25 ratings
3.52 out of 5 stars
5 8% (2)
4 48% (12)
3 32% (8)
2 12% (3)
1 0% (0)
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