In a day or two, dear reader, I will post my recipe for Kung Fu Panda Noodle Soup, one of the triumphs of the Chinese kitchen. I was going to do so today, but it turned out I needed just a little more space for the necessary vehement denunciations of the introduction, so I decided to chop the text in two.
Now then, before anything, let me start out by saying that I highly appreciate the Chinese kitchen. Yes, I most certainly do! It is without a doubt the richest, nicest, most varied, most creative and most astonishing of mankind’s culinary accomplishments. There are only two things wrong with it.
The first of these is the cooking of dogs in the despicable city of Yulin (may the Gods wipe the evil place off the face of the earth!!), where they not only eat Man’s most faithful friend (something I must pass over in silence, since I guess one would be hard put to argue why cows Yes and dogs No), but do so in such an abhorrent, nauseating, barbaric manner that… that… that I – Alfred B. Mittington, never at a loss for words - am simply unable to describe it! Let me just say that the bullfight is child’s play in comparison, and that the worst phantasmagoria about the Spanish Inquisition does not even come close! Anyone who wants to know details, and has a very strong stomach, is welcome to look for descriptions on the internet, which right now is overflowing with footage, since the criminal 10-day Dog Eating Festival of Yulin (cursed be its name for all eternity, and may the Gods strike the hellish locality with hail-fire and ineradicable pubic lice!) is bound to begin tomorrow Friday.
The other problem with the Chinese kitchen is chopsticks.
Chopsticks, dear reader, are an absurdity. They are an earnest error of human creativity. Now, of course: many of mankind’s most useful inventions were ultimately the result of blundering. Gunpowder, for instance, was discovered by accident. So was LSD, on the backburner of a miopic Swiss pharmacist cooking cheese fondu. And even the surgical mask – so great a blessing – was the unintentional result of somebody manufacturing an immense batch of faulty bras, and selling them off to a nearby hospital with a likely story… (1) But from these glorious examples does not follow, dear reader, that whenever you make an idiotic mistake you actually have invented something brilliant and beneficial! I say more: in the case of chopsticks, the true mistake was not in making the damned things, but in mistaking them for functional silverware!
The chopstick, to the best of my archaeological and philological investigations, was developed by a fellow from the bamboo-growing region of Kuàizi, who set out to make an extra sturdy kind of toothpicks. Having only full-grown bamboo to work with, his innovation turned out to be a little thicker and longer than usual, and the story goes that he poked out three molars and one eye (his wife’s…), before inspiration struck him and he turned his invention around, putting morsels of food into his mouth rather than removing scraps of alimentary debris from his dentures. Some smart, smooth-talking marketing did the rest (he advertised the bloody things with the story that they enhanced male potency, just like burnt tiger bones and pulverised rhinoceros horn...) And thus, in 322 A.D., an awful oriental inanity was born… And billions of poor innocent Chinese (not counting those in Yulin, who are ANTHING BUT innocent) have been condemned to juggle, toss, balance and fiddle around with their food ever since…
But no matter how long these silly things have been used by how very many Chinese to gobble up how numerous and countless tasty meals, here is the honest truth: chopsticks may be usefully employed as knitting needles, or to play the drums with, or to set up a game of Mikado if you have a lot of them lying around… But otherwise there is nothing a pair of chopsticks can do that an ordinary western fork doesn’t do better!
A fork has a bigger lifting surface; it allows you to spear the food if you so desire; it doesn’t rot in the long run; you don’t need to lift your plate to your chin; it doesn’t break or splinter when you chew; a fork allows you to check your teeth for tiny pieces of parsley; you will never mistake a fork for a Pretzel Stick in the half-dark of a cosy restaurant… Most of all, however, forks are better because you only need one of them. Or if I may quote the famous culinary Zen Master Chúfáng Gōngzhǔ: ‘What is the leverage of one lifting chopstick?’ QED I dare say!
Oh, and talking about bras and mouths and things: to what most weird, undesirable mental and moral states the use of the chopstick will ultimately lead young women is shownby this here video concerning edible underwear, the chopstick way… Need I go on? Must I say more? Nay, I’m sure you get the message, dear reader: abstain from the madness that is the chopstick!
(1) If I understand it well: the manufacturer, looking for a way to get rid of the defective stock, struck on the idea that surgeons, hard-pressed by insurance claims, might wish to hide their identity from their patients so they couldn’t be sued. The rest is medical history.