Everybody eats, but not everybody eats the same way. Did you know for example that in Mexico you eat with your hands, whereas in Brazil, you should never touch your food with your hands? Imagine being Mexican and having dinner with your parents in law who are Brazilian… better practice dinner time now! In order for us all to cherish these cultural differences, we wish to give you some insights on different ways to enjoy your dinner.
In Japan you use chopsticks. For a western person this might already be tricky, but don’t forget to also never cross your chopsticks, lick them or stick them vertically in a bowl of rice. Besides that, you are expected to drink soup directly from a bowl. This is because there are often no spoons to eat your soup.
There are multiple countries in which you should eat with your hands. Examples of this are India and Morocco. In Morocco they go a little further. Here, you only eat with your right hand, since that is your clean hand. Moreover, in Morocco you can use your bread to scoop the food, or only use your thumb and two first fingers to pick up food.
Most countries that use silverware, expect you to use your knife in your right hand and your fork in your left hand.
In Thailand you do use silverware, but a fork is only used to put your food onto your spoon. You never use your fork directly to put food into your mouth.
Noises during dinner time
In the Netherlands, and a lot more western countries, we are told from a young age not to belch at the table. In China this is the opposite. Chinese people see belching as a sign you are enjoying your meal. Japanese people slurp their dinner, also as a sign of enjoying their food. In Saudi-Arabia the only sounds you will hear is eating. Here, the conversation is put to a minimum while eating.
In Italy you are allowed to talk, unless you are asking for extra ingredients such as parmesan cheese or ketchup for on your pizza. This is rude to the person who made the food, because to Italians it means that you think there aren’t enough ingredients on your pizza. Portugal agrees with Italy, which is why you should not ask for salt and pepper if it is not on the table. The food is perfect the way it is and should not need extra seasoning.
The opinions are divided when it comes to leftovers. In India for example, you should never leave leftovers. This is seen as wasteful. In countries such as China and Colombia, it is seen as polite to leave food on your plate. This means you have eaten enough. China even finds it polite to leave a mess on the table when you are finished. Italy finds it okay if you leave a little bit of food, but it is not necessary.
Even drinks can be tricky. Especially Russia has a few rules when it comes to drinks. It is expected for the men to pour the drinks for the women next to them; Vodka should never be mixed with other drinks; and when offered a drink, you should never turn it down. Offering a drink is a gesture of friendship, so when you turn down their drink, you turn down their friendship.
In Egypt, you should never ask for a drink. Your neighbour offers you a drink and then you give your neighbour a drink in return.
In Italy, you should never ask for a cappuccino after dinner. Instead, ask for an espresso.
Hungary does not cheer when you raise your glass of beer. The beer reminds them of the revolution in which they were defeated to Austria in 1848. Austria celebrated this with lots of beer.
So there is no one right way to enjoy your dinner. Let’s all cherish different cultures, respect one another and be inspired by alternative dining habits. Personally, I'm just relieved that these rules are not the law. Can you imagine having to pay a fine for asking the cook for extra cheese on your pasta?