The standard Japanese meal is composed of some sort of meat or fish dish accompanied by a couple of vegetable-oriented side dishes, pickles, miso soup and, of course, a bowl of white rice. Proper manners dictate that the first thing you do is swish your chopsticks in the soup. There is logic to this: the rice is truly sticky and if you don’t wet your chopsticks, the rice will stick to them. It would be unseemly to suck on them, or worse yet, stick out your tongue to try to work the bits loose.
At work a while back, we were settling down to our cold bentos and the woman sitting across from me stuck her chopsticks into her can of lukewarm tea. One of the guys noticed me noticing that and asked if I knew why she did that. I thought for a moment and the light dawned. “There’s no miso soup!”
So today at lunch there was a woman sitting next to me and when they brought her spaghetti, she picked up a fork and spoon and swished them around in her water glass. Some things just get to be habit, I guess, but that was weird.