Lip service: Table manners around the world


Freja_Beha_Erichsen_eatingI do confess, I love a “bit of a moan”. In fact, my favourite place is up on my high horse.

Generally, I like to have a good ol’ bitch about people’s manners or lack thereof. Especially when I’m abroad.

So there I am, sat in a lovely restaurant in Dubrovnik, getting more and more infuriated with the Japanese man slurping his food loudly, when it suddenly occurs to me “Well what if my eating with my mouth closed is offending him?”

This prompted me to look up people’s eating habits around the world.

First thing I came across was about Japan. Not only is it rude to not finish everything on your plate, it is said slurping your food enhances your eating experience by keeping the food hotter and bringing out the flavours more. That explains a lot.

Japanese are also all about the chopstick etiquette. Never leave your chopsticks pointing towards someone or stood upright in your bowl. It’s also seen as rude to wave them around, something I’d definitely struggle with as I like to gesticulate quite a lot according to my other half.

In China and Taiwan burping and leaving a mess are considered complimentary. Two things I excel in, so I’d be the perfect guest.

South Koreans believe in age before youth so no one is allowed to start eating until the eldest person at the table has taken their first bite.

In Thailand forks are used to push the food on to spoons and then you eat off the spoon. Thankfully they’ve not heard of those evil things known as sporks!

Mexicans apparently see eating with cutlery as a snobby thing to do where as in Chile it’s considered quite the opposite to eat using your hands.

In the Middle East, Asia and India you never use your left hand to eat. This is because you use your left hand to err… wash yourself after you’ve been to the toilet. What a lovely thought…

Tipping is another thing I’m never quite sure of. Either I pay the charge added to the bill out of politeness and not wanting to offend the staff, even if the food and/or service was terrible. Or I spend ages deliberating how much is acceptable and what would I appreciate if I were them. This usually leaves me with less money than I’d hoped to have after eating out. Maybe I need to head to Iceland where it’s considered an insult to leave a tip, implying the staff are unable to look after themselves.

The list of things I find odd and even rude goes on. Safe to say everywhere is different and no doubt I have unknowingly offended people with my behaviour at one stage or another.

Have I learned much from reading up on different cultures? Yes, to be more tolerant and understanding definitely, but I highly doubt that this will stop me from having a bit of a strop at people eating loudly with their mouths open.


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Aly-Ellen Barbarella

Aly - or Aly-Ellen Barbarella Dainty-Hooves as she sometimes prefers to be known - lives in North London with her boyfriend and a gorgeous satanic black cat called Penny who has left actual scars on Biscuit's editor-in-chief. Aly likes gin, German and cyber-goth goggles.

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