Table Manners Matter All Over the World
When I was a kid, my dad drew a hard line on table manners. Be on time, elbows off the table, mind your posture, use the correct fork, napkin in your lap, no slurping, no burping, etc. I remember telling him that I had read something that claimed belching after the meal was the highest compliment you could pay the person who prepared and delivered your dinner. He informed me that if I felt so inclined, I would find myself in serious trouble.
Like China, for instance.
- Never wave chopsticks at another person, bang them like drumsticks, use them to move plates or bowls, or stab them vertically into a bowl of rice. This last gesture indicates that the food is meant for the dead.
- To serve a guest, use the blunt ends of your own chopsticks to transfer food from a communal dish to the guest’s plate.
- When chopsticks are not in use, place them neatly on the table, side by side, with the ends even.
- When picking food out of a communal dish, select only food that is on the top of the pile and the closest distance to your plate. Do not rummage through the serving dish to select specific food items for yourself.
- Before you commence a meal, wait for your host to tell you three times to begin eating.
- The youngest person at the table should pour alcohol for the other diners, beginning with the most senior person. A senior should then pour the server’s beverage.
- Never transfer food from one pair of chopsticks to another. When women transfer food with chopsticks from a serving dish to their mouth, they should cup their hand beneath the food; men should not.
- Rubbing chopsticks together to remove splinters is a sign of disrespect to the restaurant or host.
- When eating hot noodles, you are encouraged to make a slurping noise; the Japanese believe that this inhalation of air enhances the noodles’ flavor.
- Pieces of sushi should be eaten in a single bite whenever possible; if you must eat a piece in more than one bite, never place it back down on your plate between bites.
- Never stare at another person’s plate or saucer.
- It is polite to leave a little bit of food on your plate at the end of a meal, as a tribute to the host’s abundant hospitality.
- Always cultivate a vivacious, relaxed dining atmosphere.
- Upon leaving the table, always compliment the person who cooked your food.
Annie takes a look at some other places and their dining rules here.