Quirky Table Manners from around the World

Quirky Table Manners from around the World

They say eat and drink like a local while traveling. Sometimes it is the best way to blend in and to get the local authentic feel of a place. At the same time, dining abroad with locals can be like finding your way through a minefield. You never know where you should slurp and where you should not. I have compiled a list of such table manners you should keep an eye on while traveling. Not sure how many of them are valid but following them can really help you impress the locals.

Keep it Clean with Vodka in Russia. Never add anything to the drink, not even ice.

After having a meal in China, you can either say Thank You or just ‘Burp’ as a token of appreciation for the host. Also do not insult anyone by pointing the chopsticks at them.

Japan is one place where you have to be careful with your Table Manners. Do not pass food with Chopsticks.Β Do not stick the chopsticks into the rice bowl. And slurp as much as you can to please the hosts.

Accept a dish or glass with two hands in Korea. Also wait for the elders to start eating before you. Do not pour your own drink. You can pour for others but have to wait for someone to pour for you.

Never eat off the fork in Thailand. Push the food into the spoon with the fork and then eat.

Never be punctual for dinner in Tanzania. Reach late and you gain respect.

Ask for extra cheese in Italy and you are doomed.

Do not cut your salad with a knife in France, instead fold it over the fork.

Use your right hand to eat when in India. If you are a leftie, starve to death.

Same applies in Mexico, using cutlery is considered snobby.Β This is actually very doable becauseΒ a lot of mealsΒ can be eaten by hand. From empanadas to pambazo to even churros, cutlery isn’t really a necessity.

On the other hand, never use your hand to eat anything in Chile, not even French Fries.

Stay classy in UK. Tilt the soup bowl away from you and scoop away.

Never ask for salt and pepper in Portugal. It is considered offensive to the chef.


How many of them have you mastered yet?


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114 thoughts on “Quirky Table Manners from around the World

  1. All good stuff Gokul. I must have upset many folks in Thailand πŸ˜‰ But I feel folks knew we were farang and had no issues giving us forks and watching us eat non soupy foods at the Buddhist vegetarian restaurants in both Phuket and Chiang Mai.

  2. This is such a humorous twist to a very relevant topic. I can relate to the chopsticks and fork bit. There have been times when I have wondered why are people slurping so much, and then realized that the more they slurp, the happier the hosts get. Cheers!!

  3. The point about not pouring your own drink applies in Japan too, and there are many others — I was told that I should not mix my wasabi into my soy sauce when eating sushi (though I’m sure I saw local diners doing that in a couple of places) and also that one should turn over nigiri sushi to dip the fish and not the rice into soy sauce. I found that really awkward to do though! In most places, especially ones that welcome tourists a lot, there is appreciation for showing respect and trying to conform to local etiquette but I would say that people are also very forgiving and don’t expect foreign visitors to know every last detail of etiquette either.

  4. Haha this is so funny. I think I might like to visit Russia as liking the sound of the vodka although maybe not China as I don’t like people burping. Isnt it strange what is OK in one country isn’t in another. I really enjoyed reading this.

  5. I would advise that when eating around the world, keep body noises to the minimum. There may be a way to burp or splurp to show appreciation, but you don’t know how to do it, and if you do it wrong, you will have no face to show the world. As for chopsticks, you’re not supposed to stick the chopsticks into the rice so that they stick straight up, and you’re not supposed to pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another pair, but nobody really does that anyway.

  6. Very good information. It’s good to know about eating customs when traveling so that u don’t offend anyone. I love seeing different food and the way different cultures eat.

  7. Who knew! I can’t imagine just not sitting down to eat. I am sure foreigners may view something from us as strange but compared to these – I can’t think of anything.

  8. My daughter always tells me that she doesn’t understand how people use their cutlery in the US. She can’t figure out how they constantly change their forks and knives from one hand to the other, rather than just using one hand for each. I guess anything is normal if that is what you know.

  9. Hahah. This is an entertaining post! Slurp as much as you can! Japan is on our bucketlist. Better remember this! Ask for extra cheese in Italy and you are doomed. Oh dear! As a cheese lover, that’s difficult to do! πŸ˜›

  10. This is something that I find really useful, I once walked in a restaurant in some country and asked for spoon and fork when they ate with their hands— I was so embarassed. I should have looked around first. It’s good to know these things no matter how quirky.

  11. Very interesting take, this. I found the GIF’s so cute. I loved the one of the baby eating with a chopstick

  12. These are all so interesting and I must admit a bit humorous in some cases. I think my youngest would fit right in in China showing his appreciation for the meal by burp is right up his alley…LOL

  13. Hahaha, this is great! I’m already well on the way to good table manners overseas – I can already be late, slurp my food, burp, eat with my hands and drink clean vodka when I eat out downunder! Only problem is getting a second invitation πŸ˜€

  14. Wow these are some really interesting table manners from around the world. I am shocked at the not asking for extra cheese in Italy. My family are a bunch of Italians and we all love cheese. Thanks for sharing the information.

  15. Fun post! I kept catching myself eat with the wrong hand in India – very embarrassing. I’m not sure burping after a meal in China is still done though πŸ™‚

  16. A few of these I didn’t know, a few I did, and a few I find myself wondering if I’ve done them without knowing! Ah well, next time I’ll do it right!

  17. Every culture certainly has its quirks when it comes to table manners. I also enjoy slurping my noodles loudly here in China. I didn’t know about the fork trick in Thailand, but I’m planning on heading there next month, so now I know what to do!

  18. Interesting post. Eat like a local is true but if you can’t handle it properly then what. I always have a tough time with chop sticks, indeed I don’t know how to hold it. And now after reading, this I can say for sure I have offended many people in Thailand.

  19. What a great post! I feel like I would starve in India tho haha as I dont think I could eat with my hands over there. Good to know about Japan as I am going there soon! And I love Italy for that extra cheese πŸ˜€ love that gif haha!

  20. Hehehe, some of these made me laugh! πŸ™‚ Love how you are doomed “if asking for extra cheese” in Italy, but also how the chef is going to be insulted in Portugal if you ask for salt and pepper. I actually love the diversity of it all! Had fun reading this, thanks! πŸ™‚

  21. Very interesting facts here. I had no idea about the fork/spoon eating etiquette in Thailand though. Will be interesting to notice that on my next visit.

  22. I travel for food as well and it’s nice to see articles like this that gives me head’s up when trying out food in different countries. Thanks for sharing!

  23. There’s really no standard when it comes to eating etiquette as we have diverse culture, customs and traditions. It is best to study first about the culture of the place that you’re going to visit so you will not humiliate others (without even knowing you do).

  24. This post hits the right nail. Enjoyed reading the post, and while some of them made me laugh, I need to keep others in mind. The last thing I want while dining out, is angry hosts.

  25. Most of these rules are kind of strange to me but the one in Tanzania tops them all. I mean I never thought that tardiness would be appreciate it.

  26. Really interesting! I always try to research table manners and dining decorum of the country before I visit, because table manners are probably the easiest way to offend someone, for instance in some cultures if you don’t finish your meal it’s an insult, though in other if you finish it’s a sign that you want more. Thanks for the factoids!

  27. I laughed when I read that you should ‘use your right hand to eat when in India’. I have friends who are left-handed so I would probably tell them about this. The one about Italy is quite interesting too because I like to ask for some additional servings of cheese. I have been informed now. Haha! I will take note of these table manners.

  28. What an interesting and well thought article!!! I love to go through it and I must say I didn’t know many of the things you wrote about, thank you very much for this research!

  29. Funny and useful! I remember being laughed at the first time I went to Thailand because I was eating with the fork rather than the spoon. In the UK slurping is considered rude, and so trying to slurp in Japan to show appreciation goes against all my instincts! My mum would have a fit at burping in China. It’s funny how different manners are around the world.

  30. Haha some of these were so fun! Apparently slurping and burping is appropriate in Japan and China then, never knew. The spoon and fork one in Thailand is also pretty curious.

  31. That is a lot to keep track of!! It would be difficult to practice burping or slurping in Japan and China. It would make my grandma turn over in her grave to hear me burp at the table πŸ™‚ Polite, is polite πŸ™‚

  32. These are interesting table manners and customs from around the world. I totally agree with the Mexican custom of not asking for a knife and fork, imagine doing that whilst eating tacos!

  33. Came at the right time. now we know about not asking cheese in Italy and the table manners for France. Visiting both the countries in exact 15 days and couldn’t have been better timed for us.

  34. We thought the no fork thing in Thailand was weird until we went. By pushing the food onto the spoon, you got to have perfect control over the amount of sauce (and particularly chili peppers) you put in. It took a little bit to get used to but made perfect sense. Now burping after eating in China… That might take a little more to get down with.

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