Table manners are standards of conduct that we’re taught growing up. Our parents reminded us not to put our elbows on the table, to put our napkins in our laps, and to chew with our mouths closed, until one day good table manners became second nature; well, for most of us.
Just as we in the U.S. have standard etiquette for dining, so do people in countries around the world. But when we gather around a table to eat, our table manners may differ from others', depending on where in the world they grew up. In Chile, for example, it’s bad form to eat anything with your hands, meaning even empanadas and chacareros (a type of Chilean sandwich) should be cut up with a knife and picked up with a fork. Ethiopians, however, consider it wasteful to eat with utensils, and so eat everything with their hands; specifically, their right hand; otherwise, they slop it up with a type of bread called injera.
In countries all over the world — from Afghanistan, where bread that is dropped on the floor is lifted and kissed in reverence, to Tanzania, where showing the soles of your feet is seen as impolite — proper table manners differ. To show how they vary from culture to culture, we’ve rounded up a list of interesting table manners from around the world.
Afghanistan: Kiss Bread That Is Dropped on the Floor
In Afghanistan, when bread is dropped on the floor, it’s lifted and kissed in respect.
South America: Pay Respect to Mother Earth
In parts of Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, diners pay respect to Pachamama, the Andean goddess of fertility and harvest, by spilling a few drops of their drink on the ground and saying, "Para la Pachamama." This ritual is called "ch’alla." To make an offering, some tip their glass over, and others flick it with two fingers.
Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.