People around the world have developed unique traditions of table manners and dining etiquette. Much like any other form of etiquette, it’s incredibly important to respect and follow these customs when you’re travelling abroad.

Dining abroad can often make people feel uneasy, with the host of unfamiliar rules and foods. Here are some extremely specific do’s and don’ts from around the world that you should brush up on before you travel.

1. In India, always eat with your right hand 

Dining Etiquette IndiaIn India, and across the Middle East and parts of Africa, always make sure to use your right hand to eat meals, as the left hand is considered unclean. Also, don’t actually put the fingers in your mouth; use your thumb to push the food in.

2. In Egypt, wait for someone else to refill your glass

waterGetting from a meal or a gathering to refill your glass is considered bad manners in Egypt. Instead, you should wait for someone else (usually your neighbour) to offer to do so. Similarly, you should also offer to refill your neighbour’s glasses.

3. Don’t eat your bread before your food in France

Dining Etiquette French bread baguettes in wood basketIn France, if bread is put on the table, it is not an appetizer; it’s meant to accompany your food. You’re meant to tear off pieces and use it to push food onto the fork or to mop up sauces.

Also Read: When In France… French Food Customs To Keep In Mind

4. Don’t offer to split the bill in France

Close-up Of Bill With Euro Note On Wooden TableEating out is a fairly common occurrence in France. But, whether you’re out with friends or acquaintances, splitting the bill is considered highly unsophisticated. Either offer to pay the bill fully or let someone else do so.

5. Never order a cappuccino after a meal in Italy

Cappuccino coffee. (could also be a latte)Italians never order milky beverages after a meal, as milk is seen to hinder digestion. Instead, they stick to espresso or black coffee, which is seen as a digestive. Ordering a cappuccino won’t result in outrage, but will definitely mark you out as a tourist.

Also Read: 11 Tourist Faux Pas To Avoid When Travelling

6. In Italy, don’t add extra condiments to your pizza

Wood fire pizza MargharitaAlso in Italy, don’t ever ask for cheese, ketchup, or other condiments to put on your pizza if they aren’t offered to you.

7. Tipping in Japan is frowned upon upon

Japanese YenTipping is a common and even a desired custom in many countries, but quite the opposite is true in Japan. It is quite rare, and in some places, they might even reject the money.

8. Never stick your chopstick upright in a bowl of rice

Japanese food rice chopsticksIn Japanese culture, chopsticks placed vertically in rice in offerings made to the dead and at funerals. It is therefore considered bad manners and bad luck to do so during the course of a meal.

9. Also, don’t pass the food using chopsticks

Kyoto man eating traditional Japanese cuisine - takoyaki balls from a take out container while people watching on Cat Street (Kyu Shibuya-gawa Promenade) near Harajuku Street, in Tokyo, Japan. The takoyaki is covered with mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce.Another funeral ritual in Japan consists of the passing of bones from one set of chopsticks to another. So, it is considered extremely rude and even taboo to pass food this way.

Also Read: Japanese Customs That One Should Know Before Travelling To Japan

10. Accept plates of food that are offered to you with both hands

Close-up of waiter serving salmonIf you’re offered a plate, or even a large bowl, of food in Korea, make sure to accept it with both hands and to hold it firmly. This shows respect and gratitude to your hosts and to the food.

11. Always use the blunt end of the chopsticks when picking up food from a shared plate

Steamed Dim Sum (Yum Cha) dumplings served from bamboo steamersIn Japan, and in China, many plates of dishes are shared amongst a group. Apart from avoiding passing food from chopsticks to chopsticks, in such cases, you should also never use the pointed end of the chopsticks (that go into your mouth) to dip into shared dishes. Use the other blunt end instead.

12. Leave behind a little food on your plate when dining in China

Tasty Vietnamese food Bo bun rice vermicelliWhen you’re dining out in China, make sure to leave a little food on your plate after you’re done eating. It shows that you have been given more than enough food by your hosts and that you are full.

Also Read: Chinese Customs and Superstitions to Keep in Mind

13. If a whole fish is served in China never flip it over

Chinese style marinated steamed fish with onion.Don’t flip the fish over after eating one side, as this is said to resemble a capsizing boat and it is considered bad luck. So, if you wish to finish the other side of your fish, remove the bones and continue eating on to the other side.

14. In Thailand, don’t use your fork to put food in your mouth

Woman eating Thai food Pad Thai in cafeWhen you’re in Thailand, eating with a fork is seen as unacceptable. Instead, you’re expected to use the fork to push the food onto a spoon and use that to eat with.

15. Don’t ask for salt or pepper in Portugal

salt and pepper dining etiquetteIf salt and pepper aren’t provided on the table, don’t ask for them, as it is considered insulting to the seasoning skills of the chef.

16. Never use your hands to eat in Chile

hands using knife and fork to eating french fries and fried chickenIn Chile, it is seen as extremely ill-mannered to touch your food with your hands. This is also often the case in Brazil. So, make sure to eat everything with your fork and knife, even burgers and French fries.

17. Never mix the wasabi and the soy sauce when you’re having sushi

Sushi with soy sauce on black rockIt is considered bad manners to mix the wasabi and the soy sauce in a bowl to dip your sushi in. If you must have the wasabi, it goes directly on top of the fish, while the fish (and NOT the rice) is to be dipped in soy sauce. Meanwhile, ginger is eaten between pieces of sushi as a palate cleanser.

18. Don’t expect a full cup of tea in Kazakhstan

Uzek Tea Dining EtiquetteIf your host in Kazakhstan serves you a cup of tea that is only half full, don’t feel bad. It is a good sign, unlike a full cup of tea that is seen as a sign that the host might want you to leave.

Also Read: Fascinating Tea Traditions Around The World

Do you know any other rules of dining etiquette that are surprising or good to know? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.

 

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