Who can forget Chow Yuen Fatt with a toothpick dangling from the corner of his mouth? It is like so cool and so macho. Very much like Italian mafia heads and their cigars.
Almost all Chinese restaurants have supplies of toothpicks. Many will leave the little container of toothpicks on the table for your convenience. Some come wrapped in little paper, flavoured with mint. Some are just blatantly exposed and who knows how many people had touched the tip before you put one into your mouth?
I have a feeling only Chinese have this habit of using toothpicks. Am I right? ‘Cos I haven’t seen much of Westerns movies with toothpicks. Does the Westerner use dental floss in the privacy of the washroom to get rid of the chunks of steak or what? When I was in China, I know that the people in the restaurants are laid back, dig their teeth and talk with lots of warmth. No hang-ups, no social problems.
Since small, our parents had taught us to use a toothpick discreetly. Cover your mouth with one hand while you dig in. Of course, this is not a very nice thing to do, no matter what. But when you have just eaten a piece of tough meat, the irritation of the meat stucked in between teeth is so great, one is tempted to forego manners for the sake of comfort.
So, does other people than Chinese pick their teeth with toothpicks after a meal?