• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Dining rules to obey when dining around the world

Dining rules to obey when dining around the world

Imagine enjoying a tasty meal in a new country, only to accidentally commit a major dining faux pas. Dining etiquette differs a lot around the world, and not knowing them can lead to awkward situations. From learning how to share dishes in one place to understanding table setup in another, every country has its own unique dining rules. By understanding these dining rules, you can avoid awkward situations and ensure a more enjoyable and respectful dining experience during your international trips.

Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in different cultures, not just through food but also through the unique traditions surrounding mealtimes.

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In Egypt, altering the flavor of your food with salt is seen as an insult to the chef’s skill and expertise. When dining out or visiting someone’s home, it’s essential to respect the chef’s intended flavor profile for the dish. Adding your own spices implies dissatisfaction with the meal as it was prepared, undermining the chef’s efforts. So, if you find yourself dining in Egypt, refrain from asking for salt and pepper shakers on your table.


In Brazil, dining etiquette is an integral part of the cultural experience. When seated at the table, it’s customary to keep your hands visible above the table at all times, refraining from resting them in your lap or on the table. Remember to never eat anything, including fruit, with your hands,instead, use utensils provided, even for fruits typically eaten by hand.Passing dishes should always be done to the left, maintaining a smooth flow of food around the table. Additionally, when enjoying a salad, avoid cutting the lettuce; instead, delicately fold it with your knife and fork into a manageable bundle. If you are fortunate enough to be invited to dine in a Brazilian home, punctuality is key. Arriving at least 30 minutes late is considered customary, while for larger gatherings or parties, it’s acceptable to arrive up to an hour behind schedule.

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When it comes to pizza, Italians take pride in the simplicity of their toppings, so it’s best to refrain from adding condiments. Similarly, when indulging in pasta, using a fork is the only acceptable utensil, never a knife. Salad dressing is considered unnecessary in Italy; instead, a drizzle of oil and vinegar is all that’s required to enhance the flavors.

When it comes to bread, resist the urge to butter it. Instead, use your bread to soak up any leftover marinara sauce. Finally, while espresso is a perfect post-dessert indulgence, avoid ordering a cappuccino after dinner as it’s traditionally enjoyed in the morning.

Additionally, when ready to pay, request the check, but be aware that Italian servers won’t rush you from the table, so expect to linger.


In Kenya, table manners carry a sense of formality, though they can vary greatly based on factors like ethnicity, location, and social standing. When in doubt, it’s best to adopt a formal demeanor and observe the behavior of others for guidance. At most gatherings, there’s typically no seating plan, except for formal events where a special place may be reserved for the guest of honor. Guests are expected to wash their hands both before and after the meal, with some homes providing a washing basin for this purpose.Traditionally, the honored guest is served first, followed by men, women, and then children. Servants often bring dishes to individual guests, who are expected to help themselves once served. It’s customary to wait until the eldest male has been served and begun eating before starting your own meal.

To avoid waste, it’s advisable to take modest portions initially, allowing for second helpings when encouraged. Beverages are typically served after the meal, as it’s considered impolite to eat and drink simultaneously.

When eating, use your right hand, and always accept tea, a gesture of hospitality in Kenyan culture. While it’s polite to finish everything on your plate, it’s not obligatory.

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Leaving food on your plate is particularly important when dining at someone’s home, as finishing your meal entirely may suggest that the portion was insufficient or that the host was being frugal. By leaving behind a small amount of food, you convey gratitude and appreciation for the meal provided. Additionally, when serving tea or alcohol, it’s polite to offer others before filling your own cup. A subtle gesture of thanks can be made by tapping two fingers on the table when someone pours tea for you. Furthermore, never insert chopsticks upright into a bowl of rice, as this resembles incense offerings for the deceased. Instead, place them horizontally on your plate or a designated rest when not in use, showing respect for cultural customs and traditions.


When dining at someone’s home, it’s customary to offer assistance with cleanup as a sign of appreciation. Eating a second helping is seen as a compliment to the host, showing enjoyment of the meal. Using bread to soak up gravy and sauce is perfectly acceptable, reflecting a practical approach to enjoying every last bit of flavor. While sharing food from each other’s plates is common, it’s polite to wait to be invited to do so if you’re a guest.

Hand etiquette is also observed at the table. When not using utensils, keep your hands visible above the table, resting your wrists on top. Dishes are passed to the left, and it’s customary not to switch knives and forks during the meal. The knife remains in the right hand, and the fork in the left. After finishing your meal, cross your knife and fork on your plate, with the knife underneath the fork and the tines of the fork facing downwards, signaling to the host that you’re done.

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When enjoying sushi, the warm or cool towel provided, known as “oshibori,” is not intended for wiping your entire face but rather for cleaning your fingers if you’re not using chopsticks. Paper napkins are typically provided for wiping your lips. When dipping sushi into soy sauce, it’s crucial to dip only a portion of the fish, avoiding the rice side to prevent leaving a messy residue in the sauce. Furthermore, pouring for yourself is considered impolite, instead, someone else at the table should serve you, and then you should reciprocate, symbolizing respect and camaraderie.

Slurping is not only accepted but also welcomed and expected in Japanese culture as a sign of appreciation for the delicious food being enjoyed, especially when eating soup or noodles. When eating soup, use chopsticks to consume the solid ingredients first, then raise the bowl to your mouth to drink the broth.


In Spain, unlike in China, leaving food on your plate is considered impolite as it is viewed as wasteful rather than an insult to the host.If you find yourself becoming full during a meal, it’s preferable to make an effort to consume as much as possible before politely declining a second serving. Cultural norms dictate that dipping bread in soup or sauces is considered impolite, and it’s uncommon to do so. Additionally, it’s deemed rude for a waiter to bring the bill to the table without being asked. Instead, if you’re ready to settle the bill, it’s customary to catch the waiter’s eye and make a hand gesture resembling writing in mid-air to request it.

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When dining with the King or Queen of England, observing proper etiquette is paramount. Before anyone sits, it’s customary to wait until the monarch takes their seat. Similarly, no one should commence eating until the King or Queen begins their meal. Furthermore, when the royal diner stops eating, it’s expected that all other guests follow suit, even if you are still hungry.


In India, it’s common to share food from communal dishes rather than individual plates, especially when dining at someone’s home. When eating this way, remember to use your right hand only and eat only from your designated portion of the communal dish. If you prefer not to eat with your hands, you can use flatbread instead of silverware. In traditional Indian dining, flatbread or hands are preferred over utensils.

So, the next time you find yourself abroad, do not be afraid to ask questions, observe the locals and embrace the spirit of cultural exchange, one delicious bite at a time.