What’s rude to one is polite to another. Here’s a look at table manners in 12 different countries so you don’t make a faux pas when traveling abroad.
As a child, how many times did you hear, ‘No elbows on the table!’ or ‘Don’t talk with your mouth full!’ during meals? Good table manners are important, and they are crucial for making a positive first impression when you happen to be eating with people you’re meeting for the first time. However, does everyone in the world share the same notion of what good table manners are? Of course not!
Here are some guidelines so you don’t make a dining faux pas wherever you happen to be enjoying a meal.
Planning to have a quick bite and get up from the table right away? That doesn’t fly in Spain! It’s considered rude to not take part in the sobremesa, the time when everyone converses and relaxes while digesting the meal.
2. France and Russia
In these countries, it’s considered extremely gauche to rest your hands on your lap. Keep them on the table, and in plain sight.
3. Great Britain
How do you eat asparagus? Maybe you’ve never thought about this, but you should really give it some thought, especially when you’re in Great Britain. In the realm of Queen Elizabeth II, eating asparagus with cutlery is frowned upon, especially if it is accompanied by a dipping sauce.
Would you like another glass of wine? In Egypt, wait for someone to pour it for you. In return, you’re expected to do the same for your dining companions, never letting their glasses fall below the half-full point.
Left-handed individuals are unfortunately singled out in various ways around the world. In India, eating with your left hand is considered an unclean gesture.
If you’re getting caught up in the enthusiasm of a lively evening out and about in Budapest, don’t make the disastrous mistake of toasting with your beer. This is a no-no in Hungary. The gesture recalls the 1848 defeat of the Hungarian revolutionaries by the Austrians who celebrated their victory by drinking beer and giving a toast.
In Chile, however, both hands should be kept off the table at all times. You can’t touch your food with your hands, even if you’re eating a sandwich, burger, pizza or chips. Everything must be consumed strictly with a knife and fork!
If you’re insatiable, you’ll have to rethink your eating habits in Venezuela. During formal dinners, asking for a second helping of your meal is strictly forbidden, even if it was incredibly delicious. However, you can take seconds of dessert and drinks.
Something that is considered appropriate in one place can be seen as a sign of insufferable snobbery in another. In Mexico, tacos must be eaten only with your hands, and it’s best if you’re holding them between your forefinger and thumb, like the born-and-bred locals.
In Tanzania, you should never ever show the soles of your feet while you’re eating. You might be wondering how is that even possible? It’s simple: The Tanzanians eat while sitting on floor rugs.
Here, leftovers and a big mess on the table are a sign that the guests appreciated the dinner. Burping unapologetically is also a sign of this, and it will certainly make the host feel pleased that dinner was a great success.
Don’t get creative with your chopsticks when you’re in Japan. Whatever you do that is different from the standard way of holding them–crossing them, skewering your food, licking them, or anything else that might come to mind–is considered extremely tactless. On the other hand, it’s considered good form to make a lot of noise when eating hot soup, and to even slurp it straight from the bowl.