International Global Network

Dining Etiquette from Around the World

It is inevitable that at some point in your life you will be dining with people from different cultural backgrounds. Whether while living overseas or from socializing in your home country.

When dining with other people, you want to give your best impression which includes being mindful and respectful of the customs of other cultures. While most people will tolerate guests from other cultures being unaware of them, you will earn a lot more respect being aware of what and what not to do.

Additionally, it also happens that a lot of times, things we consider normal in our day to day life might be rude and even disrespectful in other cultures. To help you learn more about them, here we will detail eating manners from around the world.

Bringing Something for the Hosts

When invited over to someone’s house it is often a common gesture to carry a gift for the hosting family. It could be a sign of appreciation for the effort they have out into arranging a social event for the guests, you included.

Bringing gifts is a common courtesy in many parts of the world. Aside from whether or not a guest is required to bring a gift, the kind of common gift also varies between cultures.

In Vietnam for example, cigarettes are often offered and passed around. Flowers, previously reserved for religious practices and offerings have become more common to be gifted in Vietnam. Similarly, gifting flowers also seem to be the safe option in many countries, for example France.

Alcohol and spirits like wine are also often considered appropriate presents. In French culture for example wine will be offered to compliment the dinner. However, always be sure that your hosts drink alcohol.

Other cultures do not bother with gifts. This is particularly present in many Arabic countries where most of the times events are solely for men to socialize. Additionally, in Arabic culture bringing gifts might also be seen as insulting to the host’s ability to host.

Way of Eating

Eating with hands are embraced in various cultures all over the world. In India for example, eating is incredibly common to be done with hands. The way they do it in India is not by bringing the plate close to their mouths but instead to lower their heads.

Similar customs also exist in Africa. Often, a bowl of water will be prepared for the guests to rinse their hands prior to eating. In Ethiopia, a tradition known as gursha exists where guests hand-feed each other to build trust and social bonds.

Similar to Africa, Middle Eastern cultures also bond over communal plates where guests bond while eating with their hands. Bear in mind however, the prevalent Muslim teachings require to utilize only the right hand which is regarded as more hygienic.

Whether or not to finish your dish and clean the plate depends on the culture you are in. In India and Japan, guests must finish their meals. This shows appreciation to the hosts. Other cultures like China consider this rude as it might give the impression that the host is not providing enough food.

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