Nancy B. Varghese
Learning table manners is the first step towards being courteous and polite. While placing your cutlery in the wrong direction after a meal, cutting the lettuce in your salad, and even placing your hands under the table as you eat may seem harmless at home and in the company of those you know, it can be a major faux pas in other countries. To save you from any kind of embarrassment and spare you the glaring stares from those around you, we bring you a quick and comprehensive guide to basic table manners around the world!
- Placing your chopsticks on the chopstick rest or hashioki, or right next to your bowl, when you’re finished eating is basic table manners of this place. Make sure it’s not pointed to anyone at the table, and that you don’t use them to gesticulate or point it at anyone when you’re speaking.
- Many restaurants offer wet towels before beginning a meal; use it to clean your hands, and then fold it, and keep it aside as part of dining etiquette.
- Sticking them vertically into your bowl of rice is considered rude in their dining etiquette, as it is extremely offensive.
- Passing food to a person, from one chopstick to another, is considered bad table manners because at funerals chopsticks are used to pick bones from the ashes of the deceased and pass it to another person, or while transferring it into the urn.
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- Keeping your hands on the table where they are visible to everyone seated with you is considered a basic eating etiquette here.
- If you want to follow basic table manners, wait for the host to make a toast, before you take your first sip.
- Tearing your bread into bite-sized portions before eating is perfectly acceptable dining etiquette; and in fact, it is considered rude to take bites off a whole piece of bread.
- Start drinking unless everyone has a full glass in front of them. Drinking with everyone is considered good dining etiquette.
- Touch your food with your fingers, especially cheese. In France, it is basic dining etiquette to appreciate what you eat.
- Cross clink your glass (over or under other people’s hands); it’s considered bad luck. Clinking it straight is what terms as table manners.
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- Pass all dishes to the left of the table.
- If you want to follow their table etiquette, keep your wrists on the table, but not your elbows, and avoid crossing your hands.
- Remember that red wine goes with the meat and white wine goes with the fish; this is to bring out individual flavours of the dishes and the wines when paired together. Appreciating your wine is an essential part of table etiquette here
- Cut the lettuce in your salad; fold it with your fork and knife into a bundle that can be picked up by the fork.
- Begin the meal until the host says “Buòn appetito!”
- Chop long strands of pasta. Instead twirling it with a fork before eating is considered dining etiquette.
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- Arrive on time; the idea of ‘fashionably late” doesn’t apply to German dining etiquette!
- It is customary for the host to say “Guten Appetit!”, and it is suggested you wait for the same before you begin eating as part of their dining etiquette
- Hold the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right; after the meal is done, place the fork and the knife parallel to each other on the right side of your plate. This is considered basic table manners of this place. The tips should point to the ten o'clock position.
- Eat with your hands at all; the concept of ‘finger food’ is definitely not literal in Germany. Eating with the right cutlery is basic table manners.
- Cut up all of your meat at once; cut up bite-sized pieces, eat it, and then proceed to cut out the next piece and so on. Pushing big chunks into your mouth is not considered good eating etiquette
- Leave the napkin on your chair, if you leave the table during the meal for any reason. You can keep it next to your plate as part of basic table manners
- Drop the pits from olives politely from your mouth onto your fork, and then discard it into a dish that’s provided for the same. Spitting it out visibly is not good table etiquette
- Ask for water, as it is not usually provided unless you do so.The basic table manners is to make sure you mention if you want it natural (room temperature) or fresca (cold).
- Ask for dishes to be substituted; especially in the local dining locations where they are not too keen on changing their dishes, and you will be handed exactly what is mentioned on the menu.
- Forget to leave a small bit of food on your plate after you’ve finished eating.
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- Leave a small amount of rice in your bowl after you’ve finished eating as part of basic table etiquette, unless you want some more, in which case your empty bowl is a sign for the waiter to refill it.
- Take small amounts of each dish onto your plate; taking too much of any dish and hence preventing others from trying it is considered rude and against their dining etiquette.
- Slurp your food, especially if you’re consuming noodles or broth. Loud eating and drinking sounds are against the basic dining etiquettes
- Begin eating or drinking unless the senior-most member of the dinner party has been served first. In Thailand, it is basic table manners to let the elders start first.
- Wishing fellow diners ‘buen provecho’ (enjoy your meal) before you begin your meal is considered a good dining etiquette
- Eat foods like tortas and tortillas with your hands, as it is encouraged; but using the fork and spoon above your place for dessert is considered good eating etiquette.
- Be too early for a dinner! It is assumed that you’re imposing on your hosts if you show up on the dot, as you’re invited and is considered a bad dining etiquette. 15-30 minutes past the decided time is an acceptable time-frame to show up.
- Rush through your meal; the best eating etiquette is to enjoy you food with friends and family and is looked at as an opportunity to socialize and converse with those around you.
Which of these customs and table manners did you find the most insightful?
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