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For Summer Travels: International Dining Etiquette

Wed, Jun 06, 2018 at 4:00PM

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Slurping, burping and eating with your hands? It might sound like a betrayal of all table manners… but if you find yourself traveling abroad this summer, these behaviors might just be the best way to blend in.

Today, we’re taking a look at dining etiquette anecdotes from around the world, so that you can enjoy a more authentic experience on your globetrotting adventure. Just read on!

Slurp away

Maybe as a child—maybe to this day—you were told not to slurp your noodles. While it might be a sign of sloppiness in the West, it’s actually a preferred way to dine over in Japan! When dining out, you might even find that the people around you happily slurp up their noodles, and you’ll want to follow suit! The reason for this apparent quirk? Quite simply, it shows that you’re enjoying your dinner and getting the most out of every bite—or, rather, slurp. It’s also suggested that slurping your noodles, instead of trying to cut or bite at them quietly, lets you taste more of the true flavor of your dish. It’s a worth a try, at the very least!

Clean your plate… almost

While this etiquette tip might not make sense at an everyday restaurant, it may be helpful for those traveling to visit family or friends’ homes in China. It is sometimes suggested that you don’t finish every last piece of food on your plate, since your host will be more than happy to oblige and feel the need to offer up a second helping if you do. (Of course, if you do want seconds, then go ahead and clean your plate!) By leaving a piece or two left, you’re signaling to your host that you are full and more than content with the amount of food they provided.

Cheese please?

Italian cooking is known for its delicious sauces and family-style cooking, with prized recipes passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, asking for some extra cheese with your pasta in Italy is not seen as status quo. Adding extra parmesan (or other seasonings) can be seen as “messing with perfection,” so try to enjoy your dish as it comes—it might just be cheesed, seasoned and spiced to a “t” already.

Eat with your hands

Taking a trip to Mexico this summer? One helpful tip is to put the fork down for meals such as tacos or burritos. As long as the dish is not actually smothered in toppings (such as enchiladas) that might make it hard to eat by hand, it’s the norm to enjoy many dishes without silverware, much like you would with a burger or sub.

“Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?”

Dining in England? When it comes time to pass around the port, tradition says to pass to your left, giving everyone a chance to fill up along the way. If you’re waiting for your turn and the person next to you forgets to pass on the port, you can nudge them with this silly saying: “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” It’s the phrase used to remind someone who’s forgotten to pass the wine—since the Bishop was, reportedly, infamous for doing just that himself.

Rethink your bread

Over in France, bread is more than just a starter to your meal—it’s a part of it, much like a fork or a knife. You might be surprised to find that the norm, in many restaurants, is to simply leave the bread on the table as you eat. You use it to spoon up soups, cheeses and bits of your meal to enhance the flavor—it all works together.

We hope that these tips help you get more out of your summertime travels! The language of food is universal, after all… these tricks just make you a little more fluent.


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