How To Mind Your Manners Around The World

First image...
In Italy, end the night with an espresso (not a cappuccino)...

Cultural Etiquette

Pointers for graceful dining all over the globe.

... be careful how you eat these ...
... and in France, bite-sized pieces and no butter.

By Jessica Mueller
Originally appeared in September 2014 issue of Virtuoso Life

From a packed Tokyo sushi bar to a communal Moroccan meal, these tips will keep you in your host’s good graces and off the waiter’s blacklist.

It may be a bit tacky to cut rather than twirl the spaghetti at your Italian mother-in-law’s house, but in China it’s downright unlucky. Long noodles symbolize long life, and chopping them up is akin to cutting your life short.

Bread is almost never served with butter, so don’t ask for it. When eating bread, tear off bite-size chunks; don’t pick up the whole slice and chomp. It’s perfectly polite to get crumbs on the table – the French don’t use bread plates; they just set a hunk of baguette on the table.

Eating with your hands is the tradition in these regions. If you find yourself eating without silverware, remember to use only your right hand – the left is considered “unclean.” Keep it as neat as possible, handling food with just your fingertips and thumb.

Food is managed with a fork and a spoon: Hold the spoon in your right hand, and push a bit of food into
it with your fork.Eat directly from the spoon, not from the fork.

Just about every Italian dinner ends with espresso, but don’t try to trade up for a cappuccino. Frothy milk drinks are exclusively for mornings. Additionally: If a meal isn’t served with grated Parmesan, you don’t need it. Cheese isn’t meant for every type of pasta dish. And never, ever add cheese to seafood dishes.

When eating sushi, use your fingers (not chopsticks) and go easy on the soy sauce. Pour a little bit into a small dish, and lightly dip your sushi in it with the fish side down. If you’d like to share a bite with the person next to you, don’t pass it directly from your chopsticks to theirs – the gesture recalls the custom of transferring the cremated ashes of the deceased to a funerary urn.