Dining Etiquette Around the World
17 March 2014
Around the world people have adopted unique traditions and etiquette when it comes to dining. It’s important to respect these customs, so what kind of things do you need to be conscious of when you dine in another country?
Not all countries expect you to leave a tip after a meal, in fact in Japan it is seen as rude! China even has restaurants with a no tipping policy. This isn’t always the case though – in Portugal you should leave a tip of around 10%. Other countries like France and Italy tend to include a service charge but you can also choose to tip extra.
Using utensils incorrectly can be seen as rude or inconsiderate in some places. In Japan and China you should never stand chopsticks vertically in rice or use them to dip into shared dishes (use the other end instead). In India utensils aren’t always provided, you should eat a meal with your right hand, as the left is considered unclean. Thai restaurants will often provide you with a fork and spoon – use the fork to push food onto the spoon rather than eating directly from it.
Belching and slurping during a meal is frowned upon in many western countries, but in some locations it’s a sign of appreciation! In Japan slurping soup and noodles straight from the bowl is perfectly acceptable and making noise shows the chef that you are enjoying your meal. Belching during a meal in China is a sign of satisfaction and a compliment to the chef.
In many countries including China, Japan and Thailand, sharing a selection of dishes between the group is very common. If you are sharing, remember to think about customs and tradition. For example in some locations, passing food with chopsticks to another diner can be associated with funerals and should not be done. Many cultures also believe in serving the eldest members of the party first or allowing them to begin before anyone else – this is a sign of respect.
Learning restaurant etiquette like this is not only interesting, but it will also prevent you from offending your hosts and fellow diners. Check out the infographic for more top tips.