Table manners around the world are complicated, unexpected, and very easy to disobey — especially because so many faux pas abroad are completely normal, if not virtually mandatory, here in America. The 10 on this list barely cover it. For example, in Portugal, it is considered rude to bring your hostess a bottle of wine as a thank-you gift. While belching is generally considered rude in America, it is a sign of appreciation in China.
To help you stay on top of your etiquette game, we’ve compiled a list of 10 American table manners and/or habits you should dispose of when you are abroad.
1. Showing up on time
While it is expected and hoped for that your guests show up on time, in Mexico, Greece, and even Canada, arriving late is not just fashionable; it is expected. In fact, in Mexico, it’s best you arrive at least 30 minutes behind schedule. And what’s worse than showing up at an unexpected time?
2. Putting a fork in your mouth
In Thailand and Laos, you can use a fork — but don’t put it in your mouth. Instead, use the fork to put food on your spoon, which is acceptable to put in your mouth.
3. Eating pizza with your hands
We all freaked out when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio used a fork and knife to eat pizza in Staten Island — so much so that the infamous fork was auctioned off for $2,500. However, in Chile, it is a sin to eat anything at all without a fork and knife — even fries.
4. Drinking your afternoon cappuccino
Italians believe that cappuccinos and lattes — and anything except espresso, really — should not be had after noon. So, the Starbucks treat receipt program would not fly in Rome.
5. Raising your glass without thinking about how high you hold it
In Korea, when drinking with elders or colleagues, always make sure your glass is raised lower that the glass of your senior, be it your boss or your parent.
6. Asking for bread before the meal
In France, bread is always served with the meal, not as an appetizer. Bread sticks? Forget about it. You should also forget about chopped salads — in France, salad leaves are meant to be rolled and pierced with a fork before you put them in your mouth, not cut with a fork and knife.
7. Eating a banana with your hand
At aristocratic dinners in the U.K., bananas are always eaten with a knife and fork. It is a custom that dates back to the late nineteenth century.
8. Leaving tips
In Japan, it is considered offensive to tip waiters, as it implies that you think the wait staff is begging for money.
9. Drinking beer from the bottle
In Tanzania, beer is always supposed to be poured into a glass before drinking. Don’t even think of squeezing a wedge of lime into a Corona here.
10. Waiting for everybody else to receive food before digging in
In Italy, when pasta is served, you are supposed to eat it right away, even if others at the table have not received their dishes yet. However, this applies only to pasta. Likewise, in India, while it is not necessarily rude to wait for everyone else, it is customary to eat as soon as you are served.