For starters, Chopstix is the name of my favorite fast food restaurant in Los Angeles, which offers tasty food that resembles nothing I have ever eaten in Asia.

As for the real chopsticks, the wooden sticks that are held between the thumb and fingers (minus the pinkie) are used for eating in most Asian nations. I have seen these gentle pieces of wood strike fear into the hearts of westerners all over the world during meals. I have also heard from travelers that they have avoided Asia over this same fear. Take about a colossal shame.

Chopsticks1Truth is, outside of big cities in Japan forks can be in short supply. There are also few images that are more culturally specific than chopsticks. Try them out when in Japan even if you think you’re failing. However, there is nothing to fear. I may not have empirical data, I feel confident that no visitors to Asia have ever starved to death for lack of chopstick ability. While I cannot offer specific advice of how to use these, but I have become quite comfortable using them, I can tell you that you can figure it out. However here are a few thoughts if by some chance you parachute into Asia and get hungry without prior chopstick knowledge.

1. Ask a local

This is something I try to do as often as possible with or without language skills. Remember locals in Asia teach their children how to use chopsticks, they can teach you. It is also a great way to meet people.

2. Just go for it
Go for it. Stab, poke, prod, use two hands. Just try to use them how you think you should and you will likely be pretty close.

3. Eat in touristy sections of larger cities

Restaurants in area with tourists will have a fork.

4. Carry your own fork everywhere you go

Brings something plastic for airline regulations.

5. Eat with your hands

And carry plenty of napkins

6. Don’t let the small things prevent you from visiting Asia
Okay, now go get that plane ticket to Japan, China or Korea!