The Ins and Outs of International Etiquette
How to best avoid insulting people in countries across the globe
-In China, loudly slurping your tea is considered a rational way to cool it off rather than burn your lips and mouth.
-In China, use chopsticks to take food from the serving plate and then place the food atop your rice — never from plate to your mouth. Do not rattle your chopsticks on the rice bowl, which means you and your descendants will always be poor.
-In Thailand, don’t ask for chopsticks; Thais use forks and spoons to eat.
-In Greece, never arrive less than half an hour late for dinner, which never begins before 9 PM.
-In Italy, do not wait for everyone to be served his pasta before eating yours. “Amici e pasta, se non sono caldi, non sono buoni” means “If friends and pasta are not warm, they are not good.” (Photo: Flickr/nickdawg2000)
-In Italy, do not ask for a tablespoon to help you swirl spaghetti onto your fork. Only a non-Italian would do that.
-Never bring a gift of wine to a hostess in Italy or Portugal, where it is considered an insult to the host’s generosity.
-In Japan, eat one mouthful of rice for every two of meat. Do not lean your chopsticks on the food plates or bowls. Never pass food to another person with chopsticks, because at funerals Buddhists pass cremated bones of the deceased between family members.
-In Russia do not sip vodka. Knock it back, and only when the host offers a toast.
-When served caviar, do not ask your Russian host for condiments like onion or chopped egg, which Russians consider a barbaric way to mask the purity of sturgeon roe. Caviar is eaten on blini pancakes smeared with melted butter or with a mother of pearl spoon. (Photo: Flickr/jlastras)
-In Switzerland, when dipping your fork into fondue, never let the tines protrude through the bread or food and touch the fondue itself. Also, bite off the food from the fork without your mouth touching the tines.