What's your favorite food in Ethiopia
Table manners worldwide
Are table manners different in all countries?
Do you love to eat? We also!
But what is a meal without nice company to share it with and unexpected table manners that we didn't even know we had to obey? Today we look at table manners around the world: How to react respectfully in different situations while eating and what connects us all when it comes to eating with others.
Buckle up and off you go!
Wish others a good appetite
If there is one thing that connects many cultures, it is that we like to start our food with wishing others well. Funnily enough, that doesn't change that much from country to country in Europe. In Portugal you say “Bom appetite”. In German "Guten Appetit". You can also say “Bon appétit”, “Buon appetito”, “Gero apetito”, and “Buen provecho” in French, Italian, Lithuanian, and Spanish. But the further you get away from Europe, the more the expressions change!
Do you start without the others?
Is there a culture where you can start eating before everyone has their meal? Or would you start before everyone is at the table? You will be surprised to find out that in Germany it can sometimes be disrespectful to drink without the others. We all have this table rule in common: it is not right for guests to start before the host or the oldest person at the table has their meal and begins, especially in countries like Korea, China and India.
To eat with your fingers
In Ethiopia, Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India) and the Middle East, it is not only common but important that you eat your food with the right hand. The left hand is often used in connection with going to the toilet, so it is better to avoid using it to eat. Make sure to use only your fingertips when touching food and then bringing it to your mouth, not your whole hand. Do you eat burritos and tacos in Mexico? Take your hands Nobody uses a knife and fork for this delicious meal! Here's a handy guide to where in the world you can put your hands to eat.
Burp or not?
In India, Turkey, and much of the Middle East and China, burping is a commonly accepted signal that you enjoyed your meal. In Europe, however, it is seen as very rude, just like licking your fingers, rattling or slurping your cutlery a lot while eating (when you sip your noodles in Japan, you can tell that you taste great!) Another one Note: In Korea, try to avoid blowing your nose at the table. It's considered gross, while in Europe it's relatively normal as long as you do it discreetly.
The science of chopsticks
One of the most misunderstood tools: chopsticks have their own etiquette. First of all, it should be mentioned that they are not used in all of Asia (in Thailand, for example, chopsticks are not used, where the spoon is the most important cutlery). Second, the position and posture of the chopsticks will determine the success or failure of your meal. In China and Japan, you shouldn't put them on your plate or over your food, but next to them. Never point or play with the chopsticks (drumming, spreading them, etc.). The most important thing, however, is that you should never stick them vertically in your food or pass food on with chopsticks. In China this is very reminiscent of funeral rituals.
The salt and pepper drama
Salt and pepper are a must on most European tables, but in most countries you shouldn't use them until you've at least tried your food. In Egypt, on the other hand, adding salt to the food is seen as an affront to the cook because you don't trust that the food is good from the start and you feel like you have to change its taste.
Leaving food on your plate: okay or not at all?
If you grew up in the United States or Europe, you may have learned that leaving food behind is rude. It is viewed as disrespectful to the host, as well as to the people of the world who are starving and would give anything to have access to such food. In China, however, it is good to leave a bit of food on the plate to show the hosts that they have served a good portion.
Don't run away!
Everyone in the world follows this table rule! We find leaving the table right after dinner to be rude and insulting, almost as if you are too bored or too busy to hang out with your guests, whether you are waiting for the host to get up or you enjoying the nice sobremesa in Spain - relax, don't run away!
Who pays what?
This is one of the most confusing parts of going to a restaurant together: who pays the bill? In southern Europe, assuming they are not close to you (best friend, family member), you are expected to argue about who pays and both insist on taking the bill. If you were the person who suggested going out to eat, it is assumed that you will pay for everything, too. In Germany or the Netherlands, on the other hand, it is normal for everyone to pay for their food, even if they are meeting for the first time or if one person is only visiting.
Did you know these rules? Which table rules surprised you the most when you were traveling? Share your experiences with us!
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