What Do Dining Customs Look Like Around The Globe ?

What Do Dining Customs Look Like Around The Globe ?
Dining around the globe, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Rules to abide by when dining around the world

Roshni Subramanian
September 26 , 2019
07 Min Read

Foreign customs can be complicated. What is considered rude and offensive in one part of the world might be quite the opposite on the other side of the spectrum. How often have you been scolded by your folks for resting your elbows on the table or leaving food on the plate after a meal? But worry not. These are acceptable practices in China, where in fact it is considered disrespectful if you polish off your plate. What might seem like a simple cultural difference often ends up ruining a great dining experience. A quick lesson in dining etiquette can sure take you a long way and save you from committing some pretty embarrassing social faux pas.Here are few rules you should stick to while visiting the following countries. 

France

Wine and cheese are standard gifts in a french dinner gathering

Surviving a French dinner is not everybody’s cup of tea. But following the French customs sure makes it quite easy. Keep in mind to always take something when invited for dinner, preferably a bottle of wine. If you’re keen on  taking something home - made, always ask the host beforehand about their preferences. When it comes to drinking, look people in the eye when making a toast and wait for the host to give you a go - ahead before you start serving yourself. And if you’re at a restaurant, never offer to split the bill. Either pay the entire amount yourself or let the other person pay. In French culture it is rather impolite to share the bill at the end of a meal.

Italy

Italian espresso

It’s a known fact that Italians love to eat. But when in Italy, you might be at the receiving end of a snide comment or a dirty look, especially by servers,  if you fail to follow their food rules.  

Never order coffee before a meal. Coffee is meant to help you digest your meal, so ordering it in advance really doesn’t serve the purpose. When the clock strikes noon, do not order a cappuccino. Rather opt for a black espresso as consumption of any other milk based beverage can have disastrous consequences . 

While punctuality is appreciated in other cultures, Italians are not particularly known to be on time. When invited for dinner, always arrive a few minutes later than the stipulated time. If you show at the doorstep right on time, then in all possibility, the host is still preparing the meal. Italians are big on tipping. Add an additional 5 to 10% of the bill amount if you’ve been given a particularly exceptional service at an Italian restaurant.  

Japan 

In Japan, chopsticks are not to be rested on the bowl

Japanese dinner etiquette might seem a little daunting to the first time visitors to Japan. Contrary to popular belief most Japanese folks are quite tolerant and forgiving of foreigners, if you’re not aware of their customs and traditions. 

Making noises while eating can be seen as rude in many countries but in Japan the more you slurp, the more it shows your appreciation for the food and the chef. Japanese are also quite particular about the usage of chopsticks. While you can use chopsticks to eat rice and sushi, you should never pass around food using it. Moving from how to eat to what to eat, adding a generous amount of soy sauce is considered an insult to the original flavour of the food. Unlike other cultures where tipping is acceptable, in Japan, tipping is a strict no - no. Stick to the prices that are on the menu.    

China

 Traditional Chinese meal is eaten using chopsticks

Chinese take immense pride in their strong culture and traditions. While many might think that mastering the art of using chopsticks is all that you need to know about eating in China, there’s a lot more to authentic Chinese dining. 

Seniority is given a lot of importance during a traditional Chinese dinner. Even seating arrangements are based on seniority, with the eldest person occupying the place at the head of the table. Unless the senior most person starts eating, others shouldn’t begin their meal. Also, polishing off everything you’re served might not be a great idea as it shows that the host did not serve you well enough. It’s recommended to leave some amount of food at the end of a meal.  Similar to other Asian nations, tipping is impolite in Chinese culture. Most restaurants blatantly refuse to accept tips. 

Philippines 

Traditional Filippino cuisine

In a culture - oriented country like the Philippines, showing respect to their customs and traditions can fetch you quite a lot of brownie points.

Filipinos run by their own Filipino time. Just like Italians, Filipinos are quite notorious for their punctuality or rather a lack of it. So it is completely acceptable to arrive 30 minutes after the party starts. Also refrain from using the term ‘hostess’ to refer to the female host. In Philippines, this word has quite a different connotation, not appropriate for a dinner table conversation. While burping is considered as immature and impolite everywhere else, in Philipines, it is highly appreciated as it shows your satisfaction with the meal. Packing leftover food is an accepted norm, refusing to do so is considered rude. 

Russia

Russian vodka

Shrouded in mystery and stereotypes, the Russian culture is a lot more hospitable and warm than one would think. In Russia, it is impolite to place your hands in your lap as opposed to resting them on the table.At a dinner party, your host might fill your plate with a generous amount of food repeatedly, but this is to emphasise the fact that there’s plentiful of food. Though you can decine another serving, turning down alcohol is not advisable. Russians take their vodka seriously. It is a symbol of trust and friendship. So refusing to accept a shot of vodka is often seen as disrespectful. Also remember to never mix your vodka with anything even if it’s ice. 

Chile

Traditional Chilean platter

This South American nation has never failed to surprise tourists. With an interesting blend of cultures and ethnicities, Chilean people are quite affectionate. So, next time you’re greeted with a hug or maybe a kiss on the cheek, you might want to extend the courtesy in a similar manner. Though dining etiquettes in Chile are pretty standard, one should refrain from using their hands while eating. Touching any part of the meal with hands is regarded as ill - mannered. Even dishes like fries are not to be touched. What might be surprising is that in Brazil even Pizza and Burger is eaten using a knife and fork. 


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