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Twitter Users Call Out New York Times’ Chopsticks Photo For Cultural Insensitivity

The chopsticks were placed in a manner reserved for funerals.


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Some Twitter users have a beef with the New York Times over the way it used chopsticks in a photo highlighting an “Asian-inspired” steak house.

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported on Jade Sixty, a yet-to-be opened restaurant featuring both New York-style steaks and traditional Asian menu items like won tons and soup dumplings.

A photo for the online edition attempted to showcase this mix, but did so in a very strange manner, mainly through the bizarre placement of chopsticks.

was that chopsticks placement also 'inspired by asia' 👀 pic.twitter.com/xG4ixOsOd3

— Wilfred Chan (@wilfredchan) December 27, 2017

For those not familiar with chopstick etiquette, placing them in a upright manner like in the photograph is somewhat of a faux pas as, at least in Japan, it reminds people of funerals.

Therefore, many Twitter users were quick to bust the Times’ chops for cultural cluelessness.

Food stylist doesn’t understand “chopstick placement”… proper do’s and don’t’s. Photo is “bad luck.”

— iamlinda🍁 (@pica2pixel) December 28, 2017

So, who died? Or was your menu inspired by a part of Asia that uses wooden sticks as decor? #chopsticksetiquette #jadesixty https://t.co/VXGgHEoty1

— Ming Chows 林明巧 (@mingcheau) December 28, 2017

am I supposed to eat the whole steak w/chopsticks??

— partysquid 🦑 (@vikicheung) December 28, 2017

I'm glad the chopsticks are placed like offerings to the dead. I'm sure my ancestors will be excited to eat steak with chopsticks.

— alan sien wei hshieh (@chunggukpanda) December 28, 2017

Others tried to figure out why the chopsticks were near the thick steaks in the first place.

Maybe the steak attracts lots of flies, and the chopsticks are to catch the flies, a la Mr Miyagi?

— Kyra Bussanich (@KyraBussanich) December 28, 2017

Asians stick chopsticks under steaks as levers to catapult the meat into their mouths. Tres traditional.

— James Griffiths (@jgriffiths) December 28, 2017

Then there were people who were sticklers for detail.

No chopsticks in the beer? Totally inauthentic.

— Dark Laughter (@DarkLaughterTDB) December 28, 2017

Others pointed out the folly of using a term like “Asian restaurant” in the first place.

Inspired by, like, ALL of Asia? I don’t see any Indian or Malaysian food on that table. Oh, I forgot. All of Asia is basically the same.

— HeiHei is bae (@pranishk) December 28, 2017

1. Which ancestors is this table for 2. Ah, a steakhouse inspired by 48 countries.

— Vivian Lee (@vivianwmlee) December 28, 2017

The New York Times did not immediately respond to press inquiries but the website has since replaced the photo with a different one without chopsticks.

However, the chopstick photo is a reminder that the Times has been occasionally tone deaf towards Asian food and culture despite their ubiquity in New York City.

In April, the Times came under fire for a trend story on boba tea that made it seem like a new thing even though it’s been in the U.S. for nearly three decades.

The paper issued a statement agreeing with disgruntled readers, but many people felt the original article reflected a cultural blind spot that might only be resolved by putting more people of color into top positions.

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David Moye

Reporter, HuffPost

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