Table Manners: A Matter of Perspective

When people of different nationalities come together for a meal, they might be astounded or even bewildered by each other’s behavior at the table. Just as in other areas, there are also cultural differences in table manners. Since we would like Dinner Roulette to be an event, which brings people from all around the table together for a meal, here are some explanations to avoid cultural shock being a side-dish to the starter.

Right on time or a little behind

There are some countries in which punctuality is very important. Coming late is regarded as unfriendly or even arrogant there. Germany, Austria and Australia are examples for such countries. Then again, in France, Italy, Spain, Tanzania and many other countries, it is perfectly natural to be late. If one came on time, the host might not even be ready.
Side note: While it is very acceptable to have different ideas about punctuality, Dinner Roulette can only function, if everyone tries their best to be on time. 😉

Trying not to offend the chef is tough

Belching, slurping and eating noisily are compliments to the chef in China and Japan, while it is not accepted in most European countries. On the other hand, adding salt and pepper to ones meal might be taken as an offense by the chef in Portugal. In the rest of Europe, salt and pepper are essential at the table.

Right or left

In many Asian and Arab countries, the left hand is considered impure. The food may only be touched with the right hand and pointing towards someone with ones left hand or touching a person with it is considered rude.

Tricky left-overs

In the Philippines, in Russia, in Korea and in Egypt, for example, make sure not to eat up everything on your plate if you intend to end your meal, or else your host will think you are still hungry and serve you another portion. In many other countries, for example Austria, it is considered well-behaved to only take as much food as one can eat.

Europeans are not ready to shoot

In the US, it is customary to cut everything into bite-sized pieces, then to lay aside the knife and take the fork into one hand, leaving the other in ones lap. It is said that this custom comes from the Wild West, where one hand had to be ready to grab the gun and shoot – just in case. In Europe, the cutlery stays in both hands and pieces are cut off right before the next bite.

So, whatever different ideas of table manners you have, in our globalized world we must always consider cultural differences and tolerate them. In the end, we are all here for good food, right?

Are there any specific table manners you know of? Let us know in the comments!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Cheers,
Roger

2 Replies to “Table Manners: A Matter of Perspective”

  1. Well, if you want to look into table manners, you should also look into conversation rules, not that I know too much of it, but there are the issues of: is one allowed to have conversation while eating (as long, as there is no food in the mouth) and if yes: only to your neighbours at the table, or also to the person opposite of you or, to the whole table? Are there topics to be avoided? Is the food to be commented?

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