Table Manners Around the World (Slideshow)
November 20, 2013
Other countries' table manners may suprise you
Afghanistan: Kiss Bread That Is Dropped on the Floor
In Afghanistan, when bread is dropped on the floor, it’s lifted and kissed.
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, while others flick it with two fingers.
Canada: Arrive Fashionably Late
Showing up fashionably late is socially acceptable in Canada, while showing up on time or early is not.
Chile: Never Eat with Your Hands
Chileans always use utensils. It’s bad manners to touch any part of your meal with your hands.
China: Make a Mess and Belch
In China, a host can tell that you enjoyed the meal when you’ve made a mess around your table. And leaving just a bit of food on your plate shows that you’re full and you had enough to eat. Although, it’s rude to leave any rice leftover in your bowl. Belching is another way of complimenting the host on the food.
Egypt: Don’t Refill Your Own Glass
It’s customary in Egypt to wait for someone else to refill your glass and for you to refill your neighbor’s glass when needed. If a glass is less than half full, it needs refilling. If your neighbor forgets to refill your glass, you can let them know it needs to be refilled by pouring a little more drink into their glass. It’s never acceptable, however, to refill your own glass.
England: Pass the Port to the Left, and Know the Bishop of Norwich
In England, port is continuously passed to the left side of the table until it’s finished. Some say this has to do with naval tradition — the port side of a boat is on your left if you’re facing the helm — but the true reason is unclear. If the port is not passed, it’s considered impolite to ask for it. Instead, a neighbor can ask the person who has it, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" If they reply that they don’t know him, the response is, "He’s a very good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port."
France: Use Bread as a Utensil
The French never eat bread as an appetizer. Instead, it’s eaten with the meal and is used as a utensil to scoop up food off the plate and into your mouth. Bread is even placed directly on the table as a knife or fork would be.
Georgia: Make a Toast, Then Empty Your Glass in One Sip
In Georgia, toasting lasts for hours. Everyone at the table goes around in a circle making toasts before emptying their glasses in one big sip. Once every person at the table has made a toast, they go around the circle again. Ten to 15 (small) glasses per person are typically consumed in an evening, and Georgians only toast with wine or vodka, or with beer if they wish someone bad luck.
Italy: Don’t Put Parmesan on Pizza
If your pizza doesn’t have Parmesan on it, it’s not a good idea to ask for it. Putting Parmesan on pizza is considered a culinary sin in Italy.
Japan: Slurp Your Food to Say Thank You
Slurping, usually when eating noodles or soup, is a sign of appreciation for the chef. The louder the slurp, the greater the thanks.
Mexico: Only Eat Tacos with Your Hands
Using a fork and knife to eat a taco is considered silly and snobby in Mexico. It’s polite to eat it with your hands.
Russia: Drink Vodka Neat and Always Accept a Drink
In Russia, vodka is always drunk neat. Adding any mixer — even ice — is seen as polluting vodka’s purity. The only exception is beer, which, when mixed with vodka, produces a drink called "yorsh." Also, offering someone a drink is a sign of trust and friendship, and turning it down is very offensive.
Thailand: Don't Eat Rice with a Fork
In Thailand, forks are mainly used to push food into a spoon. They should only be used to put food that is not rice-based into your mouth. Also, chopsticks are considered tacky eating utensils.
Tanzania: Hide the Soles of Your Feet
Eating on a carpet or mat in Tanzania is customary. But showing the soles of your feet is seen as impolite.