17 Surprising Food Etiquette Rules From Around The World

There are rules to stuffing your face, you know.

1. In Italy, never order cappuccino after a meal.


Italians never order a milk beverage after a meal because milk hinders digestion. Instead, they’ll opt for straight espresso or coffee. No one’s going to be outraged at you for ordering a cappuccino, but you might be branded a tourist.

2. In China, never flip a fish.

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Flipping a whole fish after eating one side is considered bad luck, as it’s associated with a capsized fishing boat, and that makes total sense. Instead, remove the bones completely if you want to get to the other side, or just stare at that delicious fish meat taunting you from your plate.

3. …but feel free to burp while eating.

When dining in China, go nuts. Burping is a sign of appreciation for the food.

4. In Ethiopia, get used to eating off one giant plate.

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While individual plates are sometimes used, family meals are served off one giant plate. Extra plates are considered wasteful.

5. In Japan, never stick your chopsticks into the rice bowl.

In Japanese culture, this behavior is only acceptable at funerals, when food is offered to hungry ghosts. Also, it can resemble funeral incense, which is just going to make dinner awkward.

6. Never pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks.

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During funeral rituals in Japan, bones are passed from one set of chopsticks to the other, so passing food this way is considered taboo.

7. And when eating sushi… actually, just never eat sushi, because you’re probably doing it all wrong.

But here’s a chart if you insist:

8. When visiting friends in Nigeria’s Kagoro tribe, don’t even think of asking for a spoon if you’re a woman.

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According to Margaret Visser in The Rituals of Dinner, women aren’t allowed spoons. Everyone knows spoons lead to insurgency.

9. In America, impress your friends with a place setting that takes up five acres of table space.


There are some variations on table placement, but either way, Hot Pockets will taste so much better with a fancy place setting.

10. In Thailand, don’t stick forks in your mouth.

You’re supposed to use your fork to shovel food onto your spoon, then eat off that.

11. In Korea, take cues from your elders.

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Wait to eat until the eldest person has started, and keep pace with them. This isn’t a race; there’s plenty of kimchi to go around.

12. Also, never pour your own drink.

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According to Eat Your Kimchi, it’s polite to pour drinks for others. Keep an eye on your friends and refill accordingly.

13. When vacationing in Ancient Greece, only eat meat slaughtered via ritual sacrifice.

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Léopold Migeotte explains in The Economy of Greek Cities that animals were sacrificed to the gods before consuming their meat, and the bones and fat of the animal were set aside for deities.

14. In the Middle East, eat with your right hand only.

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The left hand is commonly associated with, uh, bodily functions, so the right hand is used to eat and socialize with. If you’re a lefty, you’ll apparently starve to death.

15. In Britain and America, do all the right things with your teaspoon or risk great shame.

1. When stirring, never touch the sides of your cup with the spoon.
2. Don’t leave your spoon in the teacup.
3. Place your spoon on your saucer, facing the same direction as the cup handle.
4. Sip tea in complete terror and try your best to avoid faux pas.

16. In the U.K., be classy when it comes to soup.

NBC Universal / Via

Tilt the bowl away from you, and scoop away from you, as if to say, “I hate this soup, I couldn’t possible eat it,” before giving in and daintily sipping from the side of your spoon.

17. In London, it’s OK to fart (as long as you’re a giant and you’re eating snozzcumbers and drinking frobscottle).

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