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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chork On It

I recently came across a chork.

Don't know what it is? You should! It's a cross between chopsticks and a fork.

It's the invention Japan should have invented instead of the walking, talking nagging Living Wallet (see HERE). 

I went out to get some lunch a couple of weeks back (though I do that everyday), but this time at Manchu WOK, a Chinese food establishment located in the food court of the Fairview Mall in Toronto.

It was my first time there, as I usually go Japanese, Scottish (McDonald's) or Kentuckian (KFC)... (strangely enough, all three countries/States have that sexy accent I love)(on women).

Now... while I love my fast food, I would prefer to eat healthier, which is why I eat Japanese cuisine a couple of times a week... but dammit... the cost!

I would get the inexpensive Chinese food--I love the veggies and tofu--but I always hope that when I get home I'll have Chinese food for supper.

But, with weeks turning into months and still never a Chinese food meal at home, I said screw it all and got some great Chinese food piled high into a styrofoam container and took it back to work to smell up the place to make all of those people dieting there hate me just a little bit more.

I'm nothing, if not just a little bit evil.

When I opened up my white plastic bag that they charged me $0.05 for (I hate Toronto sometimes), I noticed an interesting chopsticks holder.

Rather than the typical wooden chopsticks sheathed in an open at the top paper holder, or a pair of more ornate ones sealed in a thin plastic wrap, I saw this:

Pretty nice, huh?

Oh those evil Chinese! They stole it from Japan!

Then I opened up a container, that had it had a different graphic on it could have housed some sort of evil Scottish-like McApple Pie.

There, inside... I saw this (dun-dun-dunnnnnnn):

This is the chork. It's a plastic set of chopsticks, joined at one end with a fork, or open at one end to be squeezed together like a pair of chopsticks... cheater chopsticks.

But, if that's too embarrassing for you, you could always snap the joining fork head apart - and voila - two separate chopsticks.  

Because I am quite competent with chopsticks and my less-than perfect Japanese chopstick grip (I have a slightly modified grip that works so well for me that I have won speed eating contest in Japan. - Just one, really. But really... yes... I can use Japanese chopsticks. Sigh.)

(How many times has a foreigner been asked that question by a curious Japanese person as the foreigner is actually using the chopsticks to eat? And how many times has the foreigner dropped food from the chopsticks onto their shirt after answering in the affirmative that yes, they can use chopsticks? Even I had done that three of four times in the early days.)
But the chork - I would have used it when I was learning... but Japan didn't have one, though they did have cheater chopsticks... apparently used for toddlers. Goo-goo-ga-ga.    

The Chork appears to be an American invention. And why not? The Chinese and Japanese already know how to use chopsticks - what the hell do they care if some stupid foreigner splashes something wet and slippery down onto their white, short-sleeved shirt.

Why are you wearing short sleeves? It's after Labor Day! You know that's a Japanese thing, right?

Anyhow... I have long wondered why the Japanese - who have been exposed to foreign culture for a while now - still insist that using a pair of sticks to eat food is better than a knife, fork and spoon(s).

Well... I can ask that culturally insensitive question... and then I can try and answer it. (That's the whole point of this blog, you know... I take the piss out of Japan, while doing the same to myself or whatever the hell my culture is. Cheese, I think.)

Here's why the Japanese still use chopsticks as their main utensil:
  • You really only need one set of utensils (from cooking the food to eating it)
  • It's a way to maintain one's culture.
  • Slurping of food isn't just cultural - it's fun!
  • Keeps the riff-raff from completely feeling at home. (Foreigners)
  • Getting dropped food stains out of clothing is easy. It's an ancient Chinese secret:
 (I love this commercial! - An all-time favorite!)

... which they stole from Japan! 

Of course, just like when you go to a Chinese take-out food joint and see the menu... the English one is always about 40 menu items lighter than the one written in whatever the Chinese language is written in (Mandarin, Cantonese, other?).

There's always something hidden... personally, is it possible that the Chinese and Japanese (together again in the same sentence!) only pretend to use chopsticks all the time... that they only use them when foreigners are about? That they actually use a fork and knife when drinking their soup?

Okay... I've clearly gone coo-coo for cocoa-puffs...

But... now that the reverie is over, let's find out a bit about the folks selling the chork.

The chork was created by Brown Innovation Group in Salt Lake City, Utah in the U.S.A.

Brown Innovation Group? Brown like with Indians? In Salt Lake City? I was thinking dot, not the feather...

Anyhow, the Brown Innovation Group (B.I.G.... I also work for B.I.G., but we use different words to describe the capital letters) was founded in 2008, and is a concept development and marketing company specializing in bringing new products and technology to market.

They state that the whole reason for creating the chork (chorksticks is probably too long, right?) is to "help chopstick novices to practise the notoriously tricky art of eating with sticks". I would assume it was also to make a few dollars, but what the hell do I know?

The chork is available in red and black apparently, though I have only seen red. They are made of food-grade high-impact polystyrene, and can be purchased - probably from THIS website in packs of 12 and 24, though the actual website says you can get them in packs of 500.

Okay... I have no idea where you can get them from. Manchu WOK hasn't had a chork in quite some time now...

And... I never actually used mine. I have my own set of disposable chopsticks I have been using for years.
Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm kidding. I would never use disposable chopsticks more than once. I know where they've been.
PPS: Happy Halloween. My son is going as Satan Claus... or as he calls it: Zombie Santa. My idea last year was just to go as regular Santa Claus. No one ever does that.

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