Sitting at the dining table, you would have been taught and corrected by your parents and elders on acceptable table manners while eating food, such as keeping your elbows off the table and eating with your mouth closed. But now that you have decided to see the world and have put on your globetrotting shoes, it is time to learn more about different countries have their own respective dining etiquette at their tables. Good dining etiquette is ingrained in almost every child in a family, and the same applies to people in different countries around the world. However, when people from different cultures and countries come together on the table to eat, table manners and dining etiquette may differ from one another depending from which part of the world they have come. Here are some important dining etiquette from around the world that you must know:
• In Chile, it is a bad sign to eat anything with your fingers and using your hands is a complete no-no at any formal gathering. Even typical Chilean sandwiches such as empanadas or chacareros that is otherwise looked at as finger food, must be cut up with a knife and eaten with a fork.
• In Ethiopia, it is bad manners to eat with any kind of cutlery, and hence everything, which includes all kinds of foods, must be eaten with the hand — particularly the right hand.
• In Afghanistan, if a loaf or slice of bread is mistakenly dropped on the floor, it is not thrown away or discarded. Instead, it is lifted up from the floor and kissed in reverence, before been dusted off and consumed.
• In certain parts of Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and Chile, there is the practice of paying respect to the Andean goddess of harvest and fertility known as Pachamama, before the meal begins. A few drops of the local brew or beverage present at the table must be spilt on the ground while declaring, “Para la Pachamama”. This particular ritual has been carried on for decades and is a must on every table.
• In China, it shows that you have had a good meal if you have made a pretty good mess on the table. Your host will be mighty pleased if the dinner table is messy, which shows that you have enjoyed your meal. Moreover, if you leave just a little bit of food on your plate, it also shows that you have had enough to eat and will not take a further helping. But at the same time, it is extremely rude if you happen to leave even a few grains of rice in your bowl. Another way of complementing the host who has prepared your meal is to belch loudly. This shows you have thoroughly enjoyed the meal and is a way of thanking your host.
• In Egypt, you must not refill your own glass if it is empty or even half full. As a custom in the country, you must wait for someone else to refill your glass and in most cases this would be your immediate neighbour at the table. Similarly, it becomes your duty to refill your neighbour’s glass if you see it half full or empty.
• In Japan, remember to slurp your food. As a sign of appreciation to the chef, slurping while eating noodles or drinking soup is considered the norm. In fact, the louder the slurp, the better the appreciation. Also remember, never to cross your chopsticks, lick them, or vertically thrust them into a bowl of rice. This is considered highly rude and a sign of utter disrespect in most Asian countries including Japan, China and others.