US Presidents, eating with chopsticks
November 26, 2021 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Which presidents of the US can (or could) eat with chopsticks?

Anthony Bourdain said Obama is skilled, although he doubts that 45's hand are big enough. Bush Sr? Probably, but the details of his place setting aren't clear, in the photos from when he hurled into the Japanese PM's lap in 1992. Twenty years earlier, Nixon famously mastered their use before his China trip (although now I'm wondering if he ever used them again). And how about President Joe? I'm guessing FLOTUS Dr. Jill can.
posted by Rash to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Keith Robbins (2012), Transforming the World: Global Political History Since World War II, says this without any citations that I can see: "Reagan proved good with chopsticks." Slightly more context at the link suggests that's meant literally.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:31 PM on November 26, 2021

Best answer: Possibly Herbert Hoover. He and his wife Lou lived in China before he was president, and they spoke Mandarin Chinese in the White House when they didn't want the servants to understand them. Lou Hoover remains the only First Lady to speak an Asian language.
posted by FencingGal at 3:32 PM on November 26, 2021 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Reagan, though I can’t vouch for his technique…
posted by mochapickle at 3:34 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer:
"Though [Bill] Clinton had practiced using chopsticks for over one month before his visit to China, he still failed to pick up the cake twice. Each time, the chopsticks also fell onto the table. At last, a waitress helped him to move the cake to his plate."
That was in 1998, so maybe he's gotten better since then.
posted by box at 3:41 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Looks like Gerald Ford's technique was pretty questionable.
posted by pinochiette at 3:50 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

George H W Bush was ambassador to China, so i seems very likely he would be skilled in their use.
posted by mmf at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Richard Nixon famously learned to use chopsticks for his diplomatic trip to China.
posted by aquamvidam at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

If you'd like one, this site has another Nixon citation.
"The President seemed more deft in manipulating the ivory chopsticks than he did in holding aloft the successive glasses of crystal-clear, mao-tai, the sourghum-based Chinese liqueur."
posted by box at 12:13 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Or, in Tricky Dick's own words to Chou En-lai:
"I want to tell the Prime Minister that last night’s banquet was superb. All our party and the press are talking about it this morning, what a wonderful time they had. I talked to my daughter by telephone this morning, and she saw the banquet on television live, at 6:00 a.m. Boston time. She heard the Prime Minister’s toast, and was very impressed. She was very impressed, too that I could use chop sticks."
Reagan, as he often did, had a dad joke about his chopstick technique. To reporters in 1984:
''It seems that Tass, the Russian news agency, says that I was a failure at trying to eat a pigeon egg with my chopsticks. And as usual, Tass was wrong. It wasn't a pigeon egg, it was a quail egg, and I got it on the second stab.''
posted by box at 12:20 PM on November 27, 2021

Best answer: Looks like Truman used chopsticks at least once.
posted by box at 12:29 PM on November 27, 2021

Best answer: Ditto Jimmy Carter.
posted by box at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2021

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