Food

Journalist ‘Discovers’ Chopsticks For the First Time as If Asians Never Existed

You know what I love about White people? They’re always “discovering” shit. Like the time they discovered that “you can make Banh Mi without bread” (note — you can’t). Or when they discovered that “those blobs in your [bubble] tea are supposed to be there” (note — no shit).

Well folks, they’ve outdone themselves this time — the creme de la creme of “Columbusing” — as they’ve just now discovered helpful uses for those chopsticks sitting in your “junk drawer”.

In a now-archived, tone-deaf article, Claire Lower of Skillet, the food vertical housed under the same umbrella as Kotaku, A.V. Club, and Jezebel, wrote all about the wonders of chopsticks and how they can be used as helpful hacks when doing tasks other than authentically shoveling Asian food into your mouth.

Unfortunately, the only life lesson learned was by Lower herself, as netizens were quick to point out that her piece was rife with problems from the word “go”.

In the very first paragraph, Lower asserts that chopsticks, if you have any in your home, are typically not in use, as they can be found in your average “junk drawer”. In fact, you’d have to be “some sort of hyper-organized Kondo type” to house your chopsticks anywhere else — like, oh, I don’t know, a silverware drawer? Because it takes above average cleaning skills to put eating utensils where they belong?

After we’ve fished out our apparently unused chopsticks from our junk drawer, we may or may not be at a loss for what they are. Are they eating utensils? Are they giant toothpicks? Are they vampire stakes? Who can say; they’ve been sitting in our junk drawer for so long that we’ve long forgotten what their function is. But don’t despair, folks — Lower has come to our rescue and will explain to us what chopsticks are!

Okay, awesome, so they’re basically tongs. Tongs are definitely something I recognize, unlike these wacky, foreign chopsticks. Tongs certainly sit in their own drawer, whereas chopsticks have been relegated to the “junk drawer” along with discarded ketchup packets.

So what are her chopstick protips? Starting off with breakfast, she suggests scrambling eggs with them. Because why not begin on a super basic note that even White people probably would have been able to figure out on their own?

It gets better, though — Lower recommends using a chopstick to determine the amount of water you need to add to your “pot of rice”, even going as far as to link to another White woman’s article who explains this concept in more detail. Because, you know, using your finger to determine the necessary water level was too easy, so adding an extra step was totally required here. Also who uses a pot to make their rice? Here’s a life hack: get a rice cooker!

Moving onto frying, Lower asserts that the best use for chopsticks in this scenario is to use them to grab the small bits of food that fall from the pan onto the stove so that they don’t get too burned. Ironically, she gives readers the option of using an “extra-long pair” of chopsticks, perhaps unaware that those chopsticks are the ones used specifically for cooking food! Kind of makes you wonder what she thinks these long ones are used for, if not for this exact situation, that she offered them as an alternative to the ones you typically use to eat with!

So now we’re getting fancy with chopsticks. Truthfully, it’s not like we don’t already do this with these utensils, but if you’re going to put this much effort into plating your food, might as well go out and get those tweezers that are apparently “a bit much” (this coming from the person that puts chopsticks in their junk drawer).

Again with the tongs? Tweezers are too much, chopsticks are in your junk drawer, but tongs are your go-to? Refer back to the extra-long chopsticks for this situation — Asians found this “life hack” loooooooong before you did, sister.

You eat cheesy snacks with chopsticks but you don’t have a rice cooker? We’re getting all sorts of mixed messages here. Slow clap on figuring out chopsticks are basically slender fingers, though; not like Asians didn’t discover this thousands of years ago, but hey — apparently we needed the refresher course?

If anyone uses chopsticks as a skewer for their kebabs, I swear to Buddha I’ll skewer you.

Honestly, the only shocking thing about this list is that Lower didn’t suggest readers use chopsticks to do their hair. As netizens rightfully pointed out, all of these so-called “life-hacks” are nothing more than totally normal uses for chopsticks that Asians have incorporated into their daily lives for thousands of years.

Note that no one is upset at Lower for trying to think outside the box when it comes to using chopsticks — White people must start somewhere, and if they didn’t grow up in an Asian home, it’s not like they would know these things on their own. But to write an article with the air of authority, as if these things were not already being done, is pretty insulting. To top it off, the entire piece reeks of “othering” — making readers who keep their chopsticks in the silverware drawer where they belong feel like they’re somehow not normal. As if using chopsticks for anything other than eating is somehow a strange new concept (discovered by White people, no less) that needed an entire article dedicated to the notion.

Skillet has since updated the article, complete with a non-apology that doesn’t once use the word “sorry”.

“Note: This story frames chopsticks as something that’s not in everyday use in people’s kitchens. We have heard from readers who have pointed out that this framing depicts the experience of a huge swath of people as outside the norm. We hear and appreciate their feedback. We regret any pain this post has caused, and commit to do better in the future.”

What do you think? Is this peak Columbusing, or have you seen worse? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image via Wikimedia Commons / Michael Johnson (CC-BY-2.0)


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