International Dining Etiquette

Knowing some food etiquette before visiting a country can help you make friends.  It is really your acknowledgement and awareness of the fact that people from other cultures may see the world differently.

Listed below are a few  International Dining Etiquette tips to help you in your travels abroad:

Thailand

In Thailand, don’t put food in your mouth with a fork.  Use your fork only to push food onto your spoon.  An exception to this is a dish that is not eaten with rice.  Also do not eat a rice –based meal with chopsticks.

Japan

In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice. Between bites, your chopsticks should be placed together in front of you, parallel to the edge of the table or if there is a chopsticks rest, use it.

Middle East

In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don’t eat with your left hand. This hand is associated with bodily functions, so it is considered to be dirty. When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end by tilting it two or three times. This then indicates that you have finished otherwise they will continue to pour you more.

Georgia

At a traditional feast in ‘Georgia, it’s rude to sip your wine. At a traditional Georgian feast, wine is drunk only at toasts and then down the whole glass at once.

Mexico

In Mexico, never eat tacos with a knife and fork. Use your hands.

Italy

In Italy, only drink a cappuccino before noon. After that, only order an espresso. Don’t ask for parmesan for your pizza – or any other time it’s not explicitly offered. Some Italian dishes are not meant to have cheese added and other dishes are meant to have pecorino.  So the rule of thumb is: if they don’t offer it to you, don’t ask for it

England

In Britain, always pass the port to the left.

France

In France don’t eat your bread as an appetiser before the meal. Eat it as an accompaniment to your food, particularly with the cheese course at the end of the meal.

China

In China, don’t flip the fish over when you are eating a whole fish. You can either leave the bottom part untouched or you can pull off the bone and then eat the bottom half.

Chile

Don’t eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile. Chile is a little more formal than many other South American countries so all food in Chile is eaten with a knife and a fork.

Korea

In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands. This is a sign of respect for elders.  Also in Korea, don’t start eating until the eldest male has done so and don’t leave the table until that person is finished.

Russia

Never mix or turn down vodka in Russia. Vodka is always drunk neat – not even with ice. Also offering someone a drink is a sign of trust and friendship so it is a good idea to take it.

Brazil

In Brazil, the colour of your token is what counts. At Brazilian steakhouses, the waiters circle with cuts of meat and diners use tokens to place an order.  If you place the token green side up, you will be served but if you don’t want any more, flip the red side up.

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