Jun 06, 2023
In a recent Facebook food group chat, an exasperated Chinese person lamented how difficult it was dealing with his elderly parents and their refusal to adapt to new hygiene norms. They do it not just
In a recent Facebook food group chat, an exasperated Chinese person lamented how difficult it was dealing with his elderly parents and their refusal to adapt to new hygiene norms.
They do it not just to take food for themselves, but just as often to offer and share choice pieces with youngsters and other family members. It might be a loving and touching gesture but, in the process, their utensils come into wide contact with food across all shared plates.
“I’ve explained many times why [they should] not do this but it falls on deaf ears,” the person wrote.
They truly have my sympathy. It’s never easy trying to convince your older relatives, set in their ways, to change habits.
Most of the people replying to the post offered comments like, “It might be gross but I now miss my grandma doing this for us” and “They’re old, just have to let them be.”
Others opined, “Family is OK, but outside guests? No way!” More snappy retorts suggested, “You do realise people used to get sick in the past too?”
Most seemed to agree that this germ-filled act of endearment should be tolerated because our parents are not going to be around forever and they’re never going to change at their age – just as my dad will never fully understand the difference between data from a mobile network and the free Wi-fi he could be accessing, no matter how often I try to explain.
Using communal chopsticks us also the kind of thing that I essentially agree with in principle but haven’t always followed in practice. I have absent-mindedly used my eating chopsticks to grab food from dishes during meals with friends, then pretended it didn’t happen when no one noticed.
There’s a hygiene hack that lots of people practised when we used only one pair of chopsticks. You eat with the thin end and then flip them around, using the thicker end to pick up food and serve others.
To remedy the mistake, they stick their eating utensils into the boiling soup as a means of “sterilising” them. By meal’s end, I can’t believe someone will drink that saliva broth.
More common are friends who get lazy as dinner wears on. Everyone will be rigorous and thoughtful about using the communal chopsticks at the beginning. But as dinner continues, booze is liberally consumed, and when there are just a few remaining morsels on the plates, people can’t be bothered to switch chopsticks any more.
Of course, etiquette dictates you never grab the last piece of anything. You have to wait for someone else to put it in your bowl. Hopefully, that won’t be from their germ-y chopsticks.