Dining Etiquette Around the World

We talk about food all the day. Most people eat to live but true blue foodies live to eat. No matter where your from, what you do and what you look like, if you are a foodie, you can immediately strike a connection with other foodies anywhere and start discussing your favorite restaurants, recipes and dishes.

Although food is something that joins and unites us, the tradition and culture that goes behind the making, presenting and eating the food is varied all across the globe. There are similarities, of course, but each region and country has it’s own way with its food.

This is called table and dining etiquette. These are extremely important and one must at least try to adhere and follow the country specific etiquette so as to avoid disrespecting cultures.

It is a but daunting and time-consuming to list every country and countries like USA, UK, Australia have a very well known set of etiquette, so we will focus on the etiquette of the other countries.

1. China

We all love Chinese food and never miss a chance tat some delicious Chinese take-outs. But, very few people know the customs that are followed traditionally in China while eating.

People usually sit on a dining table to eat and the table usually has a rotating tray so that the dishes can be passed around frequently. Chopsticks and spoons are used for eating. Although chopsticks are to be used for most rice and noodle based dishes, eating with a spoon is also okay.

Always arrive on time for your meal. It is considered impolite to dig through your food for something in particular and to keep the chopsticks stuck vertically. Always serve other before serving yourself. Restaurants often have a policy wherein tipping isn’t permitted.

2. Japan

Japan is a rather mysterious land and it’s customs are as tricky as is the country itself. Low-seating is famous is Japan and even for dinner, people sit on low-tables and cushions.

A grace is said before the meal and a thank you is said after the meal to show your gratitude. Chopsticks are the most common utensil for dining and spoons are provided if you ask for one. Chopsticks should not be crossed or licked and should not be used to pass food around as it is considered very rude.

It is also considered rude to eat while walking or in public and to tip the servers at the restaurants. Soups should be eaten from the bowl directly without spoons and rice bowls should be held close while eating to avoid spillage.

3. Saudi Arabia

If you are invited to a home in Saudi Arabia for a meal, it is best to know the customs. The dining etiquette are same in almost all Muslim countries. If the meal is in a hotel, the event will most likely be a same-sex one and if both sexes are present, they will be seated separately.

If the meal is served on the floor, it is best to sit cross-legged for your own comfort. Utensils may be provided but if you are eating with hands, you must only make the use of your right hand. Pork and alcohol is strictly prohibited.

The honoured guests will be served first and will be served the best and the prized part of the meal.

4. India

India a diverse land but with many languages, customs and traditions but the table and dining etiquette are mostly uniform throughout the country. Indians prefer eating with hand over spoons and forks but utensils will be provided if you ask.

It is very important to thoroughly wash your hand before and after a meal. The elders of the family are given a lot of importance and they are usually served first and they start the meal.

Indians love sharing food and thus, sharing is a common sight. Only take as much as food as you require as wasting food is very disrespectful.

5. Ghana 

Ghana is a small African country and it’s mannerisms are not known by many and are very formal. Wait for someone to tell you where you have to sit and before taking a seat, you should always greet the elders of the family.

A wash basin is got out before the before, you can use that to wash your hands. The meal should always begin after the eldest male of the family starts eating. The food is usually served out of a big bowl that is common to all the people and food is eaten with hands. Left hand should not be used for eating.

6. Columbia

Columbia is a nation nestled among the beautiful forests and rivers of South America. It’s people love their food and take it very seriously. Wait to be seated and even once you are seated, do not start eating before the host says “Buen Provecho” which means have a good meal.

Knives and forks aren’t switched while eating and once you are done using them, keep them parallel and horizontal across the plate. All the dishes on the table are to be passed to the left and skipping this custom is rude.

It is acceptable and considered polite to keep a small amount of food on your plate after you are done eating. Do not use a toothpick on the table.

7. Italy

Italy is the land of food and thus, when in Italy, do as the Italians. The hosts are the people who take the lead at a meal and they are first to sit, eat and get up from the table. Do not ask for extra cheese explicitly unless you are offered as it is considered rude.

If you are offered cheese, take it using your knife or fork instead of fingers. Do not keep your elbows on the table. Always take a small serving at first and you can take more if you need later. At a restaurant, leave between 5-10% tip of the total bill.

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