Friday, March 9, 2012

Food Etiquette Rules When You Travel

(photo credit:
We should always display our best table manners no matter where we are. But many would be surprised at the table etiquette observed around the world. Budget Travel details some of these rules to keep in mind.

  • In Thailand, don't put food in your mouth with a fork. A fork is used to only to push food onto your spoon.
  • In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice. Chopsticks should be placed together on the right in front of you parallel to the edge of the table. During funerals the rice of bowl of the deceased is placed before their coffin with their chopsticks upright in the rice.
  • In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don't eat with your left hand. The left hand is associated with bodily functions and therefore considered dirty.
  • At a traditional feast in the Republic of Georgia, it's rude to sip your wine. Glasses tend to be small so down the whole glass at once.
  • In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and a knife. Mexicans think it looks silly and snobby to do so.
  • In Italy, drink a cappuccino only before noon. Order it afterwards and you'll be branded a tourist. Order an espresso instead. Italians feel that a late-day cappuccino upsets the stomach.
(photo credit: dairygoodness)
  • In Britain, always pass the port to the left (and remember the Bishop of Norwich). The origins of why this tradition is important are unclear. If you're at a meal and the decanter stalls, then ask the person with it, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" If they say they don't know him reply, "He's a very good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port." Passing the decanter to the right is a big gaffe.
  • In France, don't eat your bread as an appetizer before a meal. Eat it as an accompaniment to your food, especially to the cheese course at the end of the meal. Placing bread directly on the table is acceptable and preferred in France.
  • In China, don't flip your fish. It's bad luck to flip your fish after finishing one side. The most superstitious Chinese will leave the bottom part untouched, while others will pull off the bone to get to the bottom.
  • In Italy, don't ask for parmesan for your pizza. Putting parmesan on pizza is seen as a sin and many dishes in Italy aren't meant for parmesan. It they don't offer it, don't ask.
(photo credit:
  • Don't eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile. Manners are more formal in this country than in other South American counties. So while it may be practical to eat with your fingers, don't do it.
  • In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands. Doing so is a sign of respect for elders, an important tenet of Korean culture. After accepting the pour, you should turn your head and take a discreet sip. Also don't start eating until the eldest male has done so and don't' leave the table until that person has finished.
  • Never mix (or turn down) vodka in Russia. The beverage is always drunk neat not even with ice. Adding anything is seen as polluting the drink's purity. Also offering a drink is a sign of friendship. If offered one it's a good idea to take it.
  • When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end. Unless you shake the cup, anyone Bedouin will continually pour you more coffee. Shaking the cup is done by tilting the cup two or three times when you hand it back.
  • In Brazil, play your tokens wisely. At a Brazilian steakhouse servers circle with cuts of meat and diners use tokens to place an order. Use your token for something you want by placing it on the table with the green side up. If you don't want anymore, flip with the red side up.

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