Meal Etiquette in Other Cultures

People involved in culinary arts programs love learning about food as much as they love cooking and eating it. One of the most exciting things to learn about a culture is the way people consume food. Take a mini trip around the world and read about the ways other cultures enjoy their meals:

Dinner isn’t usually served until around 10:00 pm in Spain. In order to tide themselves over, Spanish people tend to enjoy a drinks and a small meal known as tapas after work and before dinner.

Many English people still set aside some time around 4:00 pm to drink tea and have a pastry or small sandwich.

While your mother may have scolded you as a child for slurping your noodles, it’s a completely acceptable practice in Japan. Slurping noodles allows you to enjoy hot foods without having to wait for them to cool off, allowing you to taste your noodles when they’re at their best.

When a server at an Italian restaurant asks you if you want freshly grated Parmesan on your meal, the answer in America is always a resounding “yes.” However, Parmesan and seafood aren’t to be mixed in Italy. Your waiter may look at you funny, just like someone would give you the side eye for putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog. Another fun tidbit about Italian food culture is that cappuccinos are only acceptable before noon. They’re thought of as a breakfast drink. If you want a little caffeine boost after dinner, espresso isn’t frowned upon.

While you usually receive chopsticks with your rice-based meals at Thai restaurants in the U.S., they actually aren’t used much in Thailand  and especially not for rice. If you’re eating a rice-based dish, you use your fork to push the rice into the spoon. Don’t eat directly from the fork.

You know those awesome, messy tacos that end up spilling all over your plate because they’re just so stuffed? If you spill your taco in Mexico, you’ll just have to get it together because it’s considered snobby to eat a taco with a fork.

It’s pretty common practice in the U.S. to finish an entire basket of bread before your entree comes up at a restaurant – and ask for another one. However, in France, your bread is to be consumed along with your meal. If a cheese course is offered after the meal, eat your bread with that.

You are never to eat with your hands in Chile. Whether you’re offered a cookie, french fries, or any other dish that seems like second nature to be eaten with your hands, it’s proper to eat it with utensils there.

In the U.S., vodka is usually a part of a mixed drink, but in Russia, it is always to be drunk neat. Russia takes pride in its vodka and mixing it with any other liquid is considered tampering with the purity of it.

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