Food + Drink

9 Interesting food customs from around the world

Important table manners


By Rachel Au

9 Interesting food customs from around the world

Travelling is all about freedom, making memories, adventures, and discovering new things; and while most of these can only be done once you’ve landed, there are certain information you need to look up before you get on that jet plane. Just like Googling for things to see and places to eat, you should also research the customs and traditions of the country lest you make an honest mistake and risk getting the evil eye from the locals. Here are a couple of interesting food customs from around the world. 


1. When in the Middle East… eat with your right hand only.

It’s common culture in most parts of the Middle East to eat with your hands but what isn’t acceptable is using your left hand. In fact, while the right hand is reserved for handling food, the lefty is usually associated with the use for bodily functions. Hence, if you reach for food with the left hand, your host is going to feel quite insulted. 

food customs middle east

2. When in Italy… don’t add cheese on top of your seafood (yes, even if it’s pasta)

The combination is seen as a culinary catastrophe. 


3. Also, when in Italy… don’t order a cappuccino after a meal

Well, you can but you’ll definitely be frowned upon and automatically branded as a tourist (which you are, anyway). Italians never order a milk beverage after a meal as it’s believed to hinder digestion; so instead, they’ll get the usual espresso. 


4. When in Thailand…don’t put food in your mouth with a fork

It’s considered crude and low-class. Instead, it should solely be used to push food onto a spoon, which is then placed into the mouth. 

food customs thailand

5. When in Chile… avoid using your hands to eat

It’s customary to use a knife and fork to eat – even if it’s chicken drumsticks. It’s believed that food should never be eaten with one’s hands.


6. When in Portugal and Egypt… don’t ask for salt and pepper

Unless you want to offend the person who cooked you the meal. 


7. When in Japan… slurp your noodles loud and proud

You probably already know this and how it shows you’re enjoying your meal but there’s one other belief for this custom – that it helps to improve the noodles’ flavour.

food customs sushi japan

8. Also, when in Japan… dip the fish of the sushi, and not the rice, into the soy sauce

Actually, when it comes to eating sushi in Japan, there are several rules such as: Put the whole sushi in your mouth with the fish side to touch the tongue, don’t dump wasabi into the soy sauce but put it on top of the sushi, and eat the ginger between pieces of sushi and not place it onto the sushi. 


9. When in China… don’t finish your plate of food

For most of us, leaving your plate clean means you’re not wasting food, your future partner will not have any pimples, and if you’re eating at someone’s home, it means you’re honouring your host. In China, however, it’s rude and it means your host didn’t feed you enough. 


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