Table manners can be the ultimate way to show respect when you’re in a foreign country.

You’re on holiday and you find yourself in some pretty restaurant or being treated like royalty in one of the local’s houses, but what would you do if loud slurping, belching or making a mess were the expected table manners? Let me take you around the world at dinner time…


In Japan, and most other Asian countries, the chopstick is absolutely vital – misuse it and you could show terrible table manners. Never lick your chopsticks, cross them or stand them vertically in a bowl. Slurping really loudly is also considered as a great sign of appreciation to the chef, and you can drink directly from the bowl.

Don’t Split the Bill
In France, the cultural hub of fine dining and style, offering to split the bill is considered to be highly unsophisticated. Compared to most other countries where this is a simple offer of politeness, in France it’s better to fork out for the whole bill, or wait until someone else offers!

Knife and Fork? I Think Not
In countries such as Mexico eating with your hands is expected and it’s sometimes even considered as snobbish to eat with a knife and fork. Besides, eating Mexican tacos and fajitas would be completely unpractical with a knife and fork!

Belch Away!
While for many of us belching is downright rude, it’s a great sign of appreciation in China. After finishing your meal you can sit back, burp and the chef will be delighted as your burp signifies that you’ve really enjoyed your food. In China it’s also expected to leave a small amount of food on your plate, as it shows that you’re full and that the chef has provided more than enough food.


Cliona Elliott, Editor (Food)

Image Courtesy: By Heather Cowper from Bristol, UK (Cervejaria Trinidade in Lisbon Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons; By maqs (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons