We know that all cultures have a different set of rules when it comes to sitting down to eat. Some of these traditions might seem completely weird to foreigners, but they are also fascinating because we love general knowledge. Let’s take a look.
1. No forks in Thailand
We are not saying that Thai people do not have or use forks, but rather, they do not raise the fork to their mouths. You can use forks to push your food onto a spoon which then goes to your mouth. If you try to eat with your fork, as they do in most Western countries, you would be considered rude.
You might decide to stick to using only chopsticks during your stay in Thailand, but that would also be complicated if you eat rice. Rice is served in a regular plate, not in bowls like other Asian countries, so you really need a spoon to eat it.
2. Do not eat everything on your plate in China
Most of us were taught to eat everything on our dinner plates, especially when we are guests in someone’s house. Therefore, “cleaning” your plate usually indicates that you really enjoy your meal, but that is not the case in China.
They consider it rude to eat everything placed on your plate because it means that you were not given enough food and that you might be hungry still. If you want to please a Chinese cook or hostess, you should leave a bit of food on the plate.
3. Sharing plates in Ethiopia
If you like having meals “family style”, meaning several dishes in the middle of the table and everyone serves a bit of each onto their own plates, you might enjoy Ethiopia, but it’s a little different. In this country, you do not get your own plate.
There is a single plate on the table, and everyone helps themselves without using cutlery. The natives actually think that getting a personal plate is odd. Remember to reach for the things closest to you because reaching for anything farther is considered rude.
4. No extra cheese in Italy
When you think of Italian food, pasta and pizza immediately come to mind, and we all love adding more Parmesan cheese to those dishes. However, if you ask the chef for more cheese in this country, you are actually insulting him.
The cook might think that you do not like the food just as he or she made it, and you need to change it to eat. Moreover, adding Parmesan cheese to pizza is actually odd to most Italians, and there are several pasta dishes that do not pair with it.
5. No salt and pepper in Portugal
Portuguese cooks think that asking for extra salt and pepper is insulting for the same reason that you should not ask for extra cheese in Italy. If you need to add more condiments to your plate, it means that it was not seasoned correctly in the first place.
Most Westerners like having salt and pepper shakers on their table, but the fact is that you might not need them in Portugal, so do not use the words “pass the salt” on your next visit. Enjoy the food just as it was prepared by the locals.
6. Watch out for chopsticks in Japan
Most people that travel to Japan think that using chopsticks is the way to go, but if you stick them in the rice bowl, the locals will look at you funny. The problem here is that putting your chopsticks vertically means something different.
The natives normally place the chopsticks vertically during a funeral, but it is actually an insult to do it at local restaurants. Therefore, if you want to put down your chopsticks to take a break, it is best to place them parallel to the edge of the table.
7. Do not use your left hand in the Middle East
Using your left hand is considered disgusting in the Middle East, India, and some African countries. This is because the left hand is known as the hand you use to clean yourself after going to the bathroom. In South India, you should not touch the plates with it either.
That hand is considered dirty, so it should never go near food or any social interaction. We feel sad for left-handed people, but they need to learn to do most things with their rights hand while visiting these countries.
8. No sipping wine in Georgia
This country is one of the major wine producers in the world, so why are people not allowed to enjoy wine slowly? It is because of the art of toasting, an essential part of Georgian tradition. You have to let the person toasting finish their whole speech before drinking your wine.
Furthermore, when they do, you have to drink the whole glass in one gulp. We cannot imagine if someone else decides to make another announcement. You might be drinking more than two glasses of wine each dinner.
9. No filling your own glass in Japan
While you’re traveling through the land of the Rising Sun, you might go to a dinner party with several people. If you are all drinking, never try to refill your own glass. The tradition is to refill someone else’s cup first, and then they will fill yours.
People that do not adhere to this common courtesy get the stink eye from most locals, so it’s best just to be polite and follow along with their etiquette rules. Being impatient is also considered rude in Japan, so let’s try to learn.
10. Cappuccinos before noon in Italy
Most Westerners love getting a cappuccino with their afternoon dessert, but if you are in Italy, the locals might look at you funny. This is because Italians drink cappuccinos mostly at breakfast or as a substitute for breakfast.
They believe that drinking this creamy milk and coffee mix after 12 upsets your stomach. Of course, it is not considered rude to do this because the natives will know right away that you are a tourist. If you want to seem Italian though, try drinking espresso in the afternoon.
11. Half a cup of tea in Kazakhstan
We know about some of the tea ceremony customs of several countries like Japan and the United Kingdom, but Kazakhstan has its own rules. If you visit someone’s house, the hosts will offer a bit of tea; a cup that is only half full because of a specific reason.
Filling the cup only halfway means that the people in that home do not want you to leave anytime soon. They want to keep the conversation going, so they will be pouring more tea throughout the day. If you get a full cup that means it is time to leave.
12. No clean teapots in China
If you are guest in a Chinese household, you might want to help with the dishes after a meal. However, you should never clean the teapots with liquid soap, especially those made out of clay. Those pots are washed with water or special sand; then they are left to air dry.
What is left accumulated inside the teapot gives it “soul”, so using cleaning chemicals is like killing it. China is also known for its tea ceremonies and traditions, so it is best to just follow instructions, or you could commit a major faux pas.
We never imagined most of these rules, but they are absolutely fascinating. Which one was the weirdest in your opinion? If you liked this article, share it with your friends while following etiquette rules. See you next time!