One of the most interesting parts of travel is learning the habits of different cultures,especially eating etiquette. Since the eating etiquette you are used to requires no thinking when dining in your home country, you may want to investigate what the correct eating etiquette is in your destination country before you dive into that burger or slurp that cup of tea.
The last thing you want to do is accidentally offend someone just because you were innocently having your lunch.
Here are some pointers to guide you on the do’s and dont’s of eating etiquette from around the world that may well surprise you:
Know Your Eating Etiquette Abroad
Is the chicken you ordered a little under-seasoned? Could it do with some salt and pepper? Before you ask your waiter you might want to think again as it considered a personal insult to the chef’s seasoning skills in Portugal if you ask for the salt and pepper.
Also when you ask for the bill, don’t forget to leave a tip as it is common to do so. Ten percent is pretty common.
It’s all in the wrist. No, we’re not talking about the way you swing a golf club. We’re talking about the way you eat. In France, it is good manners to always have your hands on the table and never, ever rest your wrist on your lap.
Never take a direct bite from your bread. Instead, you must break off a piece and use it to place food on your fork. If you are dining with someone, never offer to split the bill as it is considered an insult. Either offer to pay the bill or accept the gracious offer of your dining partner.
Unlike in Western cultures, it is common to share dishes in Thailand. Back home you may be used to handling your own plate but in Thailand the culture is to share a handful of “communal” dishes with other diners.
When it comes to actually putting the food in your mouth, do so with your spoon and not the fork and please remember it is considered rude to take the final bite from the sharing bowl.
The Italians take huge pride in their food so it’s important that you take extra caution if you are visiting Italy.
Firstly, you shouldn’t ask for more cheese unless it has been offered. It is considered a massive faux pas to put more cheese on your pizza and even worse if you put it on seafood.
After your big meal, you should avoid milky beverages and drink an expresso rather than a frothy cappuccino as a digestive. If the service was up to par, don’t be afraid to add another 5-10% to the bill to show your thanks.
Japan has some of the most unique etiquettes compared to the West, especially at the kitchen table. Firstly, you shouldn’t cross your chopsticks, lick them or plunge the vertically into your bowl as these are all considered to be rude.
Don’t be afraid to slurp your food loudly as this is a sign that you appreciate the chef’s work. Also, you shouldn’t pass any food using your chopsticks as this is a practice only done at funerals.
Your pace is important here as eating too fast or too slow are considered bad signs. Always make sure you eat up every scrap of food as wasting food is considered extremely rude and disrespectful in India.
Finally, never, ever eat with your left hand as it is unconsidered unhygienic (you will not get cutlery in India!).
In India it is considered rude to leave food on your plate but in China you should leave a little. It is a sign that your host has fed you adequately.
Also, if you feel like belching, go right ahead! Strange but true because it will be taken as a compliment by the chef.
Lastly, never go “fishing” through your food for anything in particular as this is a very rude practice in China.
What unusual eating etiquette have you come across? Please share your experience in the comments below.