Table manners around the world

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Published January 02, 2014

| The Daily Meal

Table manners around the world

Table manners around the world

Other countries' table manners may surprise you.

Afghanistan: Kiss Bread That Is Dropped on the Floor

In Afghanistan, when bread is dropped on the floor, it’s lifted and kissed. 

South America: Pay Respect to Mother Earth

In parts of Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, diners pay respect to Pachamama the Andean goddess of fertility and harvest, by spilling a few drops of their drink on the ground and saying, "Para la Pachamama." This ritual is called "ch’alla." To make an offering, some tip their glass over, while others flick it with two fingers.

Canada: Arrive Fashionably Late

Showing up fashionably late is socially acceptable in Canada, while showing up on time or early is not.

Chile: Never Eat with Your Hands

Chileans always use utensils. It’s bad manners to touch any part of your meal with your hands.

China: Make a Mess and Belch

In China, a host can tell that you enjoyed the meal when you’ve made a mess around your table. And leaving just a bit of food on your plate shows that you’re full and you had enough to eat. Although, it’s rude to leave any rice leftover in your bowl. Belching is another way of complimenting the host on the food.

Egypt: Don’t Refill Your Own Glass

It’s customary in Egypt to wait for someone else to refill your glass and for you to refill your neighbor’s glass when needed. If a glass is less than half full, it needs refilling. If your neighbor forgets to refill your glass, you can let them know it needs to be refilled by pouring a little more drink into their glass. It’s never acceptable, however, to refill your own glass.

England: Pass the Port to the Left, and Know the Bishop of Norwich

In England, port is continuously passed to the left side of the table until it’s finished. Some say this has to do with naval tradition — the port side of a boat is on your left if you’re facing the helm — but the true reason is unclear. If the port is not passed, it’s considered impolite to ask for it. Instead, a neighbor can ask the person who has it, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" If they reply that they don’t know him, the response is, "He’s a very good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port."

Check out more table manners from around the world

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