Since writing about my inability to use chopsticks and reading all your supportive stories of struggle and triumph, I have re-dedicated myself to mastering this utensil. Practice practice practice, you said. And practice I've done! Two things have made a truly major difference.
First, I set myself the task of eating my daily lunch salad with chopsticks. For one solid week. Between the slippery leaves, the chunks of fruit, the squishy beans, and the rolly-polly nuts, I figured I'd have ample opportunities for both challenge and easy reward.
I also eat my lunch alone. Which is to say, with no witnesses. Part of my problem with using chopsticks in the past is that I've been in very public situations where I became easily flustered and embarrassed over my ineptitude. In the privacy of my kitchen, I can struggle my way through without the added pressure of other people watching.
The other thing that helped was picking up a decent pair of chopsticks. Unlike the cheap-o ones I'd salvaged from take-out dinners, this pair of chopsticks was much better shaped and balanced. I was surprised at how much easier they were to hold and manipulate.
And it worked. My first week passed. And then a second. I steadily improved and became more adept at picking up the roll-iest of nuts and the most errant of salad leaves. Now I've decided that I actually prefer eating my salads with chopsticks, if you can believe it.
My next test will be using chopsticks in front of other people and then eating out at an actual restaurant. I should probably try eating my salad with a pair of disposable chopsticks again, just to practice with the kind I'll likely be using.
But I'm feeling much more confident than ever before. At the very least, I'm hoping to make it through a meal without getting teased or being offered a fork!
Related: Grilling with Chopsticks: BBQ Parties in Japan
(Image: Emma Christensen)