Corporate food culture may still be in its infancy, but that hasn’t stopped offices from introducing edible etiquette of their own. We know how tough it is to keep up with all the do’s and don’ts, but at least it isn’t like elsewhere in the world!
Around the globe, cultures are carrying out cool food customs that would be completely out of whack in the workplace. Let’s take a look at some of the international etiquette we’re lucky enough not to have to put up with.
1. Don’t ask for salt and pepper if it isn’t on the table
Cooks are proud people, and in Portugal, they’re even more particular. When visiting a restaurant, to ask for any kind of seasoning is to criticize their craft. Beware!
2. Never ask for cheese if it’s not offered to you
Who would have thought that Italians would be so fragile around fromage? Putting parmesan on pizza is frowned upon and asking for it is forbidden.
3. Don’t eat your bread as an appetizer before the meal
In France, bread isn’t meant to be eaten before the meal. In fact, it serves to assist the food to the fork. If you ever find yourself amongst the French, make sure to eat the bread in small bites with the rest of your meal.
4. Never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice
Sticking your chopsticks upright in rice is off limits in Japan. The ritual, which is referred to as tsukitate-bashi, is regularly performed at funerals. To do so at any other time is to bring bad luck upon you.
5. Slurp your food
On the other hand, loudly slurping your food is a sign of respect amongst Japanese chefs. Furthermore, it is thought to improve the flavour of the broth and allow the eater to enjoy hot foods more quickly. Bottoms ups!
6. Fart after a meal
Likewise, in some Inuit cultures of Canada, passing gas after eating is a sincere sign of thankfulness. Whatever you do, don’t confuse the two.
7. Nobody eats until the oldest person takes a bite
In South Korea, elders eating first is often the norm. As a matter of fact, you should allow them to set the pace and never eat any faster.
8. Don’t put food in your mouth with a fork
In Thailand, it is considered a faux pas to use your fork as it was designed. Instead, the fork is used to push food onto your spoon, which is then allowed to be eaten. Fun fact: it is also unusual to use chopsticks.
9. Don’t eat with your left hand
Throughout the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, it is considered unclean to eat with your left hand. This has to do with what each hands’ role: the right hand reserved for eating and other pure pursuits, and the left…well, it’s meant for keeping clean.
10. Don’t use your hands at all
Meanwhile, in Chile, using your hands at all to eat is considered poor form. A knife and fork is expected to be used at every meal, evening when you’re eating fries or pizza.
11. Never eat tacos with a fork and knife
Show me one person that uses a knife and fork to eat a taco! Anyways, in Mexico, that person doesn’t exist, because eating tacos with utensils seems both silly and snobby. No duh.
12. Only drink a cappuccino before noon
In Italy, the only after dinner drink you should be consuming (caffeinated, of course), is an espresso. Unless you want to be branded a tourist, you won’t touch a cappuccino after noon.
13. It’s considered crude to clink your drinks aside from formal ‘skals’ (cheers)
Don’t ask us why, but in Sweden, you should never touch glasses. Only during formal ‘skals’ can your glass cross paths.
14. If an older person offers you a drink, receive it with both hands
Back to Korea real quick. Once you’ve waited for the eldest person at the table to start eating, you need look out for other culinary cues. If they offer you a drink, make sure to receive it with both hands. Once you’ve got a hold, turn your head away and take a discreet sip.
15. It’s rude to sip your wine
At a formal feast in Georgia, wine is only ever drunk at toasts and it is expected that you will drink everything down in one gulp. If you’re worried about getting super sauced, fear not! The glasses are normally on the smaller side.
16. Never mix — or turn down — vodka in Russia
On the other end of the spectrum, you should never refuse a drink of vodka in Russia. Na zdorovie!
17. Don’t re-fill your own drink
When drinking in Japan, fill the glass of the person sitting next to you instead of your own, and wait for them to do the same. Pouring your own effectively means you have a problem.
18. Always say ‘provecho’ (enjoy)
In Mexico, it is common courtesy to wish other eaters well when you catch their eye. Stranger or not.
19. Don’t offer to split the bill
Finally, something we can understand! In France, you are never to discuss money over dinner, even if it’s over splitting bill. In fact, it’s expected that one person will pay for everything at a time. Either you’ll decide to buck up or someone else will.
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