9 weird food customs and etiquettes around the world
The world of food and drink is mind blowing. The variety of recipes, the use of unique or little-known ingredients, the cooking method or even the taste profile are only the tip of the iceberg of a massive culinary culture. The more you explore, the more you are amazed and, sometimes, flabbergasted too. Let’s just focus on unusual customs, practices or beliefs about food and drink around the world. While a few seem logical and scientific, a few can leave you with a straight face. For example, in India, eating with the hands is part of the Hindu culture, and Veda says that the five fingers represent the five energies and thus help in better digestion and absorption of food. But if you are in Chile, dare to use your hands to eat anything. Only cutlery can get food to your mouth.
Be ready for a bite
Gursha, which means “bite” in Amharic, is a gesture of hospitality often made during a meal in Ethiopian homes. The host places a huge piece of food in the mouth of another person at the table. The recipient then returns the gursha as a sign of respect and trust between those dining together. Guests and the elderly are usually the first to receive the gursha. Ethiopian culinary tradition emphasizes sharing a meal. Individual plates are considered wasteful and are rarely used.
Straight chopsticks mean to be dry
Eating with chopsticks, Image source: Pexels
You should not put your chopsticks upright in the bowl of rice. Especially in China, that’s a big no. This gesture is linked to the ceremonial offering of food to the souls of the deceased. Additionally, it is considered offensive to point or wave your wands at other people.
Don’t chop the potatoes
Visiting Germany? Remember never to cut the potatoes on your plate if you go out to eat. Using a knife to cut potatoes could be seen as not thinking they are fully cooked in Germany. Instead of chopping the potatoes, mash them with a fork to avoid offending the cook.
Cheese can cost you your reputation
A range of cheeses, Image source: Pexels
Italians are renowned for their love of food and famous for their parmesan and mozzarella. You shouldn’t ask for more cheese unless it’s offered in Italy. It is considered disrespectful to ask for additional cheese after food is already served with cheese, which is considered sufficient. While you’re at it, never try to combine cheese with fish. Why? In Italy it is considered a gastronomic disaster.
Arrive late to get the best guest tag
You will admire this Tanzanian culinary tradition if you struggle to meet deadlines and punctuality. Coming to dinner too early or even on time is frowned upon here. It is customary to arrive at least 15 minutes late in order to be considered a good guest.
don’t go dutch
Paying the bill at the restaurant, Image source: Pexels
In France, bringing money to the table is taboo, even to share the cost. In reality, it is expected that one person will cover all the expenses at once. Either you or someone else will decide to pick up the pace.
No hands please
Eating a burger with a knife and fork, Image Source: Pexels
Never eat with your hands again when visiting Chile. Food should only be eaten with cutlery. So be careful when ordering or eating in public. Some foods require manual intervention. But you can be judged by this nation. So get ready to use knives and forks to devour burger, pizza and fries.
Making noise is expressing satisfaction
Sucking noodles, Image source: Pexels
If you can’t pass gas or belch or burp in public or even at home around other people, we have solutions for you. Farting after a meal is considered a true expression of gratitude in some Canadian Inuit tribes. Similarly, Japanese cooks view sipping loudly as a gesture of respect. Additionally, it is believed to improve the flavor of broth and speed up digestion.
Floors, the messier, the crazier
Spilled popcorns on the floor, Image source: Pexels
If you have OCD, stay away from the tapas bar in Spain. However, you can suggest to your friends to find a bar with a floor covered in garbage. An old adage from the 19th century says that the nicer a bar, the more trash there is on the floor. At the time the pub had a lot of rubbish which suggested that a lot of people frequented it. The custom is still practiced in many tapas bars across Spain and never fails to amaze visitors.