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Global Dining Etiquette

For us conventional Westerners, there are certain rules on dining that must be observed at all times. It is, for example, polite to wait for the hostess to serve you first rather than you serving your own plate before everyone else. It is also polite to position your silverware at 4:00 once you're done with your meal. Furthermore, it is polite not to make unnecessary noise when eating. However, things are a bit different with other cultures. Check out the differences below:

In China, it is polite not to finish a meal, regardless if it's rice, noodle or other Chinese cuisines. It is because when you leave nothing on your plate or bowl, you are sending them the signal that you want more and the hostess has not served you enough.

The case is different if you are in Japan. If you eat there, it is in your best interest to finish everything in your plate. The bonus? You get to have another serving. But what if you donít like the food? You finish the plate anyway. Otherwise, you would be considered impolite.

Spoons and forks are not as popular in Iran as they are here in the Western world. So even if you don't feel comfortable using your hands on your food, you should respect the custom and chow with it. So the next time you go there and you are expecting to eat with other people, try to wash your hands in advance. You will be thankful that you did.

While it is impolite to leave a messy table in most parts of the world, not to mention a cluttered floor once you're done eating, it is somewhat expected of you in Spain. In Spain, especially in snack bars, you can throw your mess (used napkins, bread crumbs, food wrappings, etc.) on the floor. This is because they sweep the debris after you or before they close their shops and it is just expected that you leave something behind. Otherwise, you did not eat anything in the bar.

We Americans are fond of diving into our foods using our fingers, especially fried treats. But English people have a slightly different opinion about that. For them, it is necessary ONLY when there are no utensils around.

Should you or should you not ask a French chef extra ketchup? No, a big no. When in France, you MUST NEVER ask a chef to give you more ketchup, this is insulting and totally unacceptable.

If you find yourself in a high-class German restaurant and you ordered something that has chunks of potato in it, what is the proper way of slicing the potato into convenient pieces? The answer: with your fork. Knives are too smooth, they spoil the texture of the potatoes.

We all know that in some cultures, it is rude to stare direct to the eyes. However in Australia, it is rude to miss the eyes of the person you are clinking a toast with. Not looking a person in the eyes signifies that you donít acknowledge the person's presence.

You would usually get stares when you burp vigorously after a meal in most parts of the world but the Inuit people of Canada think otherwise. For them, it is a sign of gratitude for the meal.


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