Learn Proper Eating Etiquette Around the World

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Eating etiquette changes from country to country, culture to culture. Some mealtime behaviors and table manners might be acceptable in certain places but not everywhere, meaning there is really no standard when it comes to eating etiquette around the world. When travelling or meeting people from other countries, it is important that you learn their customs and traditions because you might insult them without even realizing it. Here are some mealtime traditions and etiquette from other other parts of the world:

Africa

In Ethiopia, there’s a tradition of hand-feeding each other called gursha, which means “mouthful.” This act of dining from someone else’s hand is a gesture of hospitality and social bonds between those sharing the food.

Photo credit: SarahTz- Flickr
Photo credit: SarahTz- Flickr

Europe

In Europe, people never rest their hands in their laps; rather, they place their wrists on the table.

Keep in mind the Continental style of eating – fork in your left hand and knife in your right.

When passing a dish to someone on the table, pass it to your left.

Always use utensils, even for the food that are considered “finger foods.”

Middle East

In many Muslim cultures, the left hand is considered “unclean” that is why people use only the right hand to eat, without the utensils.

Muslims show great respect for food and the effort exerted into making it, that is why when somebody drop his bread, he should pick it up, kiss it, and raise it to his forehead before putting it back on the plate.

Photo credit: Zlerman- Flickr
Photo credit: Zlerman- Flickr

East and South Asia

In Japan and China, people slurp their noodles to show appreciation for the meal.

While in Europe, it is a must that you finish everything on the plate, it is a no-no in many Asian countries. It would suggest that the host didn’t feed the guest enough. Instead, leave a small amount on the plate to show that you are full and that you acknowledge the host’s generosity.

In Japan, it is an insult to tip the waiter at a restaurant. It implies that he’s not making enough money and that he is treated lowly.

In India, it is a tradition to wash the hands and the mouth before the meal.

Also, it is acceptable to lick the fingers as it shows the host how much the guest enjoyed the food.

If you want to return the favor to the host after a good meal, don’t say “Thank you,” instead show your gratitude by inviting the host over a dinner.

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Central and South America

It is very common for the people in Mexico to haggle over paying the bill when eating out.

In Chile, taking a second helping is offensive. You must wait for your host to offer you more food.

In most Central American countries, people do not begin to eat until the host says “Buen provecho!”

When eating in informal restaurants, summon the staff by making eye contact, waving or calling their names is impolite.

11 thoughts on “Learn Proper Eating Etiquette Around the World”

  1. Wow, I didn’t know about all these kind of eating etiquette. I find it really interesting and amazing! I also like how you elucidate every eating etiquette of each place, it something clear and very educational. Learning a culture like this one is beneficial and something that we can always keep. I haven’t traveled a lot in other countries, but this one is something I look forward to know if I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  2. Wow! It’s nice to know all these etiquettes that vary from place to place. I didn’t know that it’s impolite to wave at waiters in some parts of the world. I hope they are usually attentive and nearby so that the guests can easily make eye contact.

  3. Who knew there are so many intricate food rituals? I didn’t know half the stuff you wrote here, so I’m glad I learned some new things from you today. Thank you for that. ☺

  4. Being an avid traveler, I have always been fascinated by the different eating etiquette around the world. I remember being in this Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto, after a very long flight, and they brought the meal on a very big platter, without any cutlery. It was a traditional restaurant so I had to eat with my hands, which was very interesting. In India I experienced the same thing, eating with my hands. It was very interesting.

  5. Wow! I didn’t know many of these. This was one learning experience at your post.
    It is commendable that you have done a good deal of research for putting up the post. 🙂

  6. This is a must-read for travelers. I was not aware of these eating etiquettes and surprised how diverse they are from culture to another. Kudos for a very well-written are researched post.

  7. wow this is really interesting.. this is the great thing about exploring other countries.. you get to learn their tradition and their unique etiquette in dining.. in Philippines we also have unique etiquette or maybe it could fall into superstitious belief in dining… some elders do not encourage people to put their head on their hands or more specifically your chin to your knuckles (a gesture that an individual does usually when he or she is lonely or in a daydream-like state) as they believe that it bring bad luck
    thanks for this highly educational trivia

  8. The basic proper eating etiquette should be learned by younger children the earlier they have to. It will always depends on each person’s culture. Here, we used to eat by hands but it is not really proper eating etiquette,. It just all part of the culture.

  9. Wow, this is very helpful! Our family really loves to travel around the world and this article will really help a lot. Learning each country’s proper etiquette (not just in eating) also means having respect for their culture. Will surely bookmark this! Thank you so much for the knowledge. 😀

    ♡ Aica B.
    http://www.aicabatoon.com

  10. An interesting read. Useful for globetrotters. It´s a must to be respectful of the customs of the places we visit. Just wondering if you´ve experienced these first hand?

  11. Excellent post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Appreciate it!

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