Eating with chopsticks can be a challenge. Photo: Onder Ortell

The perils of chopsticks in public

Let me tell you about my first time using chopsticks in public – it wasn’t planned I may add.

I got a beautiful set of metal chopsticks a while back with lovely engraving. They are on my desk which might not be the most usual place to keep them but I used them while listening to online calls etc to pick up random things from my desk. A few biros have flown across my office and I am still looking for my eraser, so you can understand that I was rather underwhelmed with my efforts.

Two weeks ago, we spent a lovely weekend in London and after a nice shopping spree in Oxford Street, I thought that Selfridges is always a good place to grab a bite. As I am discovering Asian flavours at the moment, I thought I give Din Tai Fung on the fourth floor a try – through open windows in the kitchen, you could see what seems like an army of chefs preparing steamed buns and dumplings from scratch.

As I had my eyes wandering, I could see many Asian diners – always a good sign – and I thought I couldn’t go wrong (and I didn’t – the food was delicious).

The tables were nicely laid out with a set of chopsticks (not as nice as mine) and a spoon. For some weird reason, it never occurred to me that I might have to eat with chopsticks at an Asian restaurant (and yes, you can call me ignorant at this stage) so when my food arrived without cutlery, I was too cowardly to ask for a fork.

Looking around, everyone seemed to have mastered the skill of eating with chopsticks just perfectly. You might imagine my trembling on the thought that any of the delicious food might follow the path of my eraser at home – I even considered eating with my fingers instead but my surroundings kind of put an end to that thought.

So, there I was in the middle of a busy restaurant, surrounded by lovely and attentive waiters who smiled at me wondering why I stared at the plates. So with all my bravery, I picked up the chopsticks and tried to remember a video I watched ages ago and placed the sticks what I hope was the right position in my hand.

I had a last glance around my neighbouring tables praying that none of my food would land on any of their plates. And to make a long story short – I managed to get all of the food in my mouth and none of it flew across the room or even on the table!

I might not have been the most elegant diner in the room but I felt I could claim to have succeeded at chopstick eating.

And just then when I felt relieved and indeed happy with my efforts, an Asian lady turned around in her chair asking loudly for a fork.

Could she not have done that a bit earlier!?

But I have to admit that I was happy to have tried it. I need more practise though to look halfway professional.

On another note, the Blarney Christmas Fair is on this Sunday in the Blarney Golf Club in Tower, Blarney. Doors open at 10am until 4pm – hope to see you there!