No elbows on the table. No slurping, burping, or any other bodily noises at dinner. These are just a couple of the common dining rules in America, but do they hold up around the world too? If you’ve never eaten and traveled in other countries, the dining etiquette and expectations might surprise you! Different cultures have some entirely unique and unexpected customs when it comes to how they eat. Get informed, and avoid committing an International dining faux pas!
In China, Taiwan, other far east countries and among Inuit groups in Canada, light burping is actually considered a compliment to the chef or host. It is a sign that you have eaten well and to your fill, and enjoyed your meal! Conversely, in Chile and many other countries around the world, you’re expected to eat quietly and neatly; belching, slurping, and other such noises are frowned upon.
Clearing Your Plate
Finishing off everything you eat is considered rude in some countries, including Russia and China. Leaving a little food at the end of a meal means that your host has provided enough food and it is an acknowledgement of your host’s generosity. However, in countries like India and the Philippines, not clearing off your plate is rude and wasteful.
Refills and Seconds
In the Philippines and in Chile, grabbing seconds on your own is a very unsavory practice. You are expected to either wait until the host specifically offers you more or encourages everyone to take seconds. In China, refilling your own glass of water is also frowned upon; instead, you are supposed to fill the host or another guest’s glass, and they will reciprocate. Similarly, if someone fills your glass, even if it’s just a little, you’re expected to fill theirs.
When to Eat
Some countries, such as Afghanistan, serve guests first. In this case, guests are the first ones to eat and should eat the most of anyone. In other places, the head of the house or the host is supposed to eat first, at which point everyone else can as well. In the Philippines, guests are expected to wait until they have been given permission to eat before digging in!
Pointing your chopsticks at another person, waving them around, skewering your food with them, or generally using them in any way that they were not intended for is considered very rude in China and other eastern countries. When resting your chopsticks down, they should be placed on either a chopstick rest or on your plate – not stabbed upright into a bowl of rice.
When eating noodle soups such as ramen in Japan, you’re expected to slurp – the louder and most enthusiastically, the better! Slurping shows appreciation to the host on their excellent meal and generosity. Of course, you shouldn’t slurp so much that your meal ends up all over yourself and others too – that would be rude no matter where you went!
Photo Credits: Babble, Wend Mag, Rain Sales Training, Tokyo Toshi, Free Pik, Steamy Kitchen