Gwenda Glocalista
Last Updated: 22nd November 2016

While travelling, you discover and experience many aspects of the other culture: Language, architecture, customs, and of course food. Spices are very different from the ones we use at home; we will get to eat vegetables and fruits that we have never seen before. Also, new delicious flavours await us when we travel. In order to blend into the local culture, it is important that you follow a certain dining etiquette.

While it is absolutely normal to use your hand to eat in India, countries on the West prefer cutlery usage. Here are some do’s and don’ts of dining etiquette that could be useful for your next holiday.

France

Do:

  • French people often drink an aperitif before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
  • Wait until the host says ‘Bon Appétit’ to start eating.
  • Keep your hands above the table and tear bread. You can use this bread to put food on your fork.
  • When you are done, keep the bread on the table and not on your plate.

Don’t:

  • It is considered rude to split the bill. Either you pay the full amount, or the other party takes it.
  • Do not cut lettuce with your knife. Instead, fold it using your fork.
  • Do not leave your plate unfinished.

Thailand

Do:

  • Use the fork to put food on your spoon, which can be safely lifted to your mouth.
  • Thai food is all about sharing. The dishes will be served all at once, spread around the table.

Don’t:

  • Unless you eat a Chinese-style dish in a bowl, Thai food is not eaten with chopsticks.
  • It is considered impolite to take the last piece or portion from the sharing plate.

Argentina

Do:

  • Use the knife in the right and the fork in the left hand (same as in most European and American countries).
  • When finishing your meal, it is considered polite to leave a bit on your plate.
  • The Argentinean tea “mate” is served in a gourd with a silver straw (a bombilla). The etiquette for drinking mate is to take a sip and pass the gourd to your neighbour; they do the same in turn.

Don’t:

  • Do not use toothpicks, blow your nose, or clear your throat at the table.
  • You should not order imported liquor unless your host does. Taxes are exorbitant.
  • Avoid pouring wine. This is a complex ritual in Argentina.

Japan

Do:

  • Eat your food with chopsticks. For soups, slurp your favourite ramen noodles or miso soup directly from the bowl.
  • Slurping is a sign of appreciation and the louder the better: It serves as a compliment to the chef. Also, follow the old traditional style of eating sushi, i.e. eat sushi with your hands.

Don’t:

  • Be sure not to cross or lick your chopsticks, and don’t put them upright in a rice bowl. This is how food is served to the dead in Japanese Buddhist ceremonies and therefore can bring bad omens.
  • Tipping is considered rude in Japan.

Ethiopia

Do:

  • Traditional meals are eaten from a communal plate, individual plates are considered wasteful.
  • It is polite to eat with your right hand.
  • When greeting people at a restaurant that already started eating, they will offer you their wrist instead of a handshake.

Don’t:

  • When eating from a communal plate, you should not reach all the way across to the other side to grab food. Eat what is close to you.
  • Do not use your left hand for eating as it is considered unclean.

Italy

Do:

  • People here prefer taking an espresso instead of milk beverages after a meal.
  • It is advisable to give tips for exceptional service. The local people give about 5-10% of the bill as tips.

Don’t:

  • It is not advisable to ask for cheese if it’s not explicitly offered. It is considered as a huge faux pas to put extra cheese on top of your pizza or seafood.

China

Do:

  • Arrive on time and dress nicely. This shows your respect to your fellow diners.
  • Belch – Yes, belching is considered as a compliment to the chef for cooking a delicious meal.

Don’t:

  • Leave a small amount of food on your plate. This is to show that your hose gave you more than enough to eat.
  • Some restaurants in China do not accept tips.
  • It is not advisable to dig through your food for anything in particular as it is considered quite rude.

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What are you waiting for? Grab your passports and go on an international tour now.

Written By

Gwenda Glocalista
Explore the wonders of India and the world.

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