At home when we eat at a restaurant that has chopsticks, I use a fork and knife most of the time.
(Photo by sparktography via Flickr)
I had sushi for the first time on a date with my husband (in the last 2 - 3 years, definitely tardy to the party) and I didn't know what to order or expect and certainly didn't think I could handle chopsticks and sushi. I ate it with a knife and fork.
When I have used chopsticks I've felt very self conscious and clumsy. Actually I was actually clumsy, not just a feeling - it was my reality.
And I was sure that I was doing it wrong and would make a fool of myself.
So I avoided them as much as possible to keep from being foolish/looking foolish.
In the weeks I spent getting ready to come to Hong Kong I never once thought about chopsticks or the fact that I might need to develop the skill to use them.
When I sat down to my first dim sum I was told that there would be some places where a fork would not be available. So even though I probably could have requested a fork in that restaurant, I didn't. I knew I'd have to get used to using chopsticks.
I also was very hungry when we sat down, so I was going to eat whether I looked like a clumsy American tourist or not.
I'm not particularly good at using chopsticks yet (I've been here less than a week). And I may always look like a tourist - even after weeks here. But not giving myself the option to ask for a fork was a little mind trick that made me adapt, try harder and focus enough to have a wonderful meal with chopsticks.
Were there faux pas? Probably. I survived, though.
It's a small internal triumph for me. One of the ways that I know I'm up for this cross cultural adventure - I'm willing to try most things and working on not being so self-conscious that I limit my experience.