The world is bigger than we make it out to be. Mass media and the Internet make us believe that people around the world are more or less like one big family, with little to no differences between them. However, if you are an experienced traveler, you know that it only takes to leave the borders of your country to realize how vastly different things can be. Food and eating are no exception –we think of eating in terms of a high table, a knife, and a fork. But what are some of the strangest eating habits that people exhibit around the world?
Strange use of utensils
You are familiar with the use of chopsticks in the East. But do you know that it is considered very rude and unsophisticated to use a fork to put things into your mouth?
In Thailand, if you use a fork for this, you will get some very strange looks. There, it is very well-known that a fork is only used to put things onto the spoon, which is then taken to the mouth. Sometimes, you also have to be careful about which hand you use to handle food. In the Middle East, if you use your left hand for handling food, there is a good chance that your host will become offended.
Order of eating
We all know people who prefer to eat something sweet before getting to the savory part of the meal, but this is not the order we are going to talk about. In South Korea, but also in some Slavic countries, the oldest members of the family eat first, and the youngest are the last ones to sit down and eat. While this custom is no longer present in many countries, South Koreans still abide by this rule, so do not be surprised if you witness something like this when traveling.
How much to eat?
In most cultures, leaving an empty plate signals that you were pleased by the meal and that you liked it. This, however, is not the case in China, where leaving an empty plate is considered to be rude, because it signals that you were not given enough food.
However, this rule is not popular in a great number of countries.
The Western world is not without its oddities when it comes to food. In England, for example, the term ‘dinner’ is always reserved for the most important and biggest meal of the day, regardless of whether it occurs in the evening or during the day. This is very different from other European countries, where lunch is usually the biggest meal, and it is taken at midday. If you are going to dinner with an Englishman, make sure to check the exact time before agreeing.