One year ago today on Round and Square (19 April 2011)—Tales of Ise (Early Japanese Stories)
|[a] Meal RF|
|[b] Cutup RF|
Seeing other things, such as chewing down to the bone while holding a morsel in your chopsticks or (as in this note) wrapping duck, onions, and sauce into a little pancake with chopsticks—and no fingers—made me understand back then some of the connections between language and culture. I actually remember thinking at the time that I would master the 把 construction at about the time that I learned to chew and jostle with chopsticks.
From there, I started to notice other such matters, ranging from the everyday ("shoveling" a bowlful of rice in highly gendered omnivorous fashion) to the occasional (getting introductions "just right" in a social setting). All of this came out of a simple fieldnote. Better put, a whole set of issues crystallized around a somewhat clunky set of observations. The detail here matters, too (and it was all new back then).
Still, those issue-crystals became much more important to my teaching and writing than the note itself. Would they be here today without the note, though? I think far fewer would be....without the clumsy first or second tries represented by jottings and fieldnotes.
|[c] Wrap RF|
The "finger" issue is one that I have treated in notes throughout my career. It is one of those seemingly small issues that creates vast gulfs of intercultural understanding. My first references to Westerners touching food with their hands (this note and a few others in 1985-1987) taps into something that has become much bigger for me as I continue to interpret differences between Chinese and American culture. It is another example of a tiny and seemingly "note-filler" kind of comment turning out to be the start of something that I think is extremely important. Stay tuned for more on finger food through the ages.
|[d] To go RF|