Do you know other countries’ food etiquette rules?
When you travel abroad and try the local cuisine, you might notice how a certain country’s table manners are very different from your own… Of course, you don’t want to embarrass yourself, or come off as rude or barbaric, so here are 12 quite unexpected food etiquette rules from across the globe you better know:
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Here all TIMESTAMPS + full TRANSCRIPT :
01:10 — Don’t use forks in THAILAND
01:55 — Don’t “clean your plate” in CHINA
02:39 — Be ready to share a plate in ETHIOPIA
03:22 — You’ll insult the chef if you ask for extra cheese in ITALY
04:05 — Don’t ask for salt and pepper in PORTUGAL
04:45 — Be careful with chopsticks in JAPAN
05:32 — Don’t touch food with your left hand in the MIDDLE EAST
06:18 — Don’t just sip on your wine in GEORGIA
06:56 — Don’t dill your own glass in JAPAN
07:32 — Only drink cappuccino before noon in ITALY
08:21 — Guest are welcomed with half a cup of tea in KAZAKHSTAN
09:17 — A clean teapot is a teapot without a soul in CHINA
- Don’t use forks in THAILAND
It’s not forks and spoons that are unknown here. Just forks. And it’s not like you can’t use a fork, you just can’t eat from one. Let me explain: in Thailand, picking food up with a fork is considered bad form. However, you are allowed to push food onto a spoon using a fork… that’s it! And if you think you can’t go wrong with just sticking the chopsticks, you better forget about it. If you’re having rice it’s traditionally served on plates, not bowls, and a spoon is what you need to enjoy it the Thai way.
- Don’t “clean your plate” in CHINA
What’s the best way to show the cook you really liked your meal: eat up every single morsel on your plate, right? maybe even ask for more if you really enjoyed it… In China, however, it’s impolite to finish eating everything on your plate. Empty plates indicate that a host hasn’t served enough food and guests are still hungry. So, if you want to compliment the chef or host, leave some food on your plate no matter how tasty it is. Yes, you’ll need to control yourself somehow. And, believe it or not, belching at the table isn’t just acceptable but also a great way to show you’re enjoying the meal.
- Be ready to share a plate in ETHIOPIA
As you sit at the table in Ethiopia waiting for someone to give you a plate to eat from, you might miss the actual meal! Everyone else will just eat from one large serving plate in the middle of the table, without using any cutlery. For many locals, getting a plate to yourself is weird and even wasteful… Only grab from the part of the serving dish closest to you; reaching across is considered rude. Also, wait until the end of the meal to enjoy the meat dishes: they’re the last thing to be eaten.
- You’ll insult the chef if you ask for extra cheese in ITALY
I don’t know about you but the more cheese on my pizza or pasta, the better. Although Italians do love this product, it’s considered rude to ask for extra cheese. It may insult the chef because they take it as you not liking the dish the way they’ve prepared it and wanting to change it. And get ready for this: adding Parmesan to your pizza is also considered pretty crazy. Plus, not all pasta dishes are supposed to go with Parmesan either. Hey, Italians are known for their incredible culinary arts so let’s just take it from the experts!
- Don’t ask for salt and pepper in PORTUGAL
Just like you shouldn’t ask for extra cheese in Italy, you can erase the phrase “could you please pass me the salt” from your vocabulary if you are in Portugal. If you ask for salt or pepper here, you may hurt people’s feelings. It’s kinda like with Italy; the cook may feel insulted by the fact that you need to “spice up” the dish they’ve served you. Plus, if you’re eating local, you probably won’t even need to add any more seasonings to your food. I mean, these chefs are highly skilled and respected: they’ll whip up the best meal of your life.
- Be careful with chopsticks in JAPAN
Let’s imagine you’re dining in Japan. Chopsticks feel like the best utensil to go with. Yet when you stick them in your rice bowl, you get surprised looks. What’s the faux pas here? Well, it’s not recommended to stand your chopsticks up vertically in the Land of the Rising Sun… According to tradition, people place chopsticks vertically during funerals. In a restaurant, doing this may insult the owner. So, to avoid an awkward situation, set your chopsticks down parallel to the edge of the table in front of you, if you’re taking a break between bites.
- Don’t touch food with your left hand in the MIDDLE EAST
In the Middle East, India, and some African countries, the left hand is used for…uh…cleaning yourself up after going to the bathroom. In South India, you can’t even touch the plate with your left hand since it’s considered too dirty to be anywhere near food. So, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, remember to go with your right hand to eat or socialize. And what should you do if you’re left-handed? In that case, make sure you only use your left hand, because for you it’s basically what a right hand is to right-handed people.
- Don’t just sip on your wine in GEORGIA
Why am I not allowed to slowly sip on my wine in one of the major wine regions in the world? Well, it all comes down to the art of toasting, which Georgians do not take lightly. Only after someone at the table finishes their long beautiful heartfelt story of how they’re wishing everyone present good health and love, you can drink your wine, and you have to drink the whole glass at once. Bottoms up!
- Don’t dill your own glass in JAPAN
If you find yourself at a dinner party in Japan and wine is involved, never get a refill yourself. You’re supposed to fill the glass of the person sitting next to you at the table, and they’ll return the favor. If you can’t wait for your refill and decide to ignore the friendly neighbor rule, don’t be surprised when you get disapproving looks. So, just be patient and respectful.
- Only drink cappuccino before noon in ITALY
It’s a sunny afternoon in Rome. You get yourself a cappuccino and a nice little dessert, and you’re getting weird glances from everyone around. Italians do drink cappuccinos, of course, but it’s mostly a breakfast drink or even a substitute for breakfast. But if you drink this milky foamy coffee later in the day, it can upset your stomach, at least according to the locals. No one will say anything to you or get offended, but they’ll immediately know you’re a tourist. So if you’re looking to blend and fit in, grab an espresso after 12 p.m. and get that caffeine boost you probably need around this time of the day anyway.
- Guest are welcomed with half a cup of tea in KAZAKHSTAN
When we think “tea ceremony,” we usually associate it with the UK and all their fancy tea-drinking etiquette. But it turns out there are plenty of tea fans in Kazakhstan, and they’ve got rules when it comes to drinking it as well… Whenever you visit someone’s home or even some company’s office, you’ll be offered a cup of tea. But that cup won’t be filled to the brim. Before you start questioning your host’s generosity, remember this half a cup actually means your hosts don’t want you to leave soon! Pouring just half a cup is the host’s way of letting you know that they want to keep your nice conversation going and keep pouring you piping hot tea. If you get a full cup however it’s a slight hint that it’s time to go home.
- A clean teapot is a teapot without a soul in CHINA
If you’ve been invited to a tea ceremony in China and offer your help with the dishes afterward, don’t even think about washing that teapot! The Chinese don’t wash teapots, especially traditional clay ones, with dish liquid. It’s washed with water or special sand and then left to air dry. The resulting plaque that has all the flavor and color of tea gives the teapot soul, which is why it’s prohibited to kill it with different cleaning chemicals. You don’t want to upset the ancient Chinese tea spirits, do you? Yeah, me neither.