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Unexpected Table Manners Around the World

Unexpected Table Manners Around the World

Do's and don'ts for the international traveler that go way beyond keeping your elbows off the table.

Flickr/the daily ornellas

Observing local table manners while traveling usually demands a little pre-meditation and a willingness to wing it, but it demonstrates respect and often brings a tasty meal, a new and unlikely set of friends, and memories for life.

Eating with locals “sets you apart from most tourists,” says Matt Berna, who heads the U.S. office for the international tour operator, Intrepid Travel. “It's guaranteed to be one of the most memorable parts of your trip.” Moreover, few experiences deliver as much insight into a foreign culture and, ironically, into oneself. “It may be uncomfortable at times,” says Berna, “but stepping outside your comfort zone can be incredibly rewarding and eye-opening.”

We collected 10 interesting table manners from disparate parts of the world, including when it’s OK to belch and spit, and which hand to use in the Middle East. While some Western rules you may have to un-learn, like trying not to slurp your soup, others reflect the social structure of the culture, like waiting until you're asked to sit down in the Philippines or eating from the hand of your host in Ethiopia. Now you can be an in-the-know diner around the globe.

Click here for the Unexpected Table Manners Around the World Slideshow.

This article was originally published February 03, 2011.


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


Table Manners and Food Etiquette in Thailand

Using good table manners in Thailand and observing proper food etiquette are pretty much just a matter of common sense: Don't talk with your mouth full, don't point with your fork, and so on. Only a few rules of table etiquette in Thailand differ from those in the West.

In Thailand, cooking and eating the world-famous cuisine is taken quite seriously. But Thai people are typically fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental infractions at the table will be forgiven. Mealtimes are often rowdy, informal affairs with talk, drinks, and laughter. Relax and enjoy the cultural exchange!


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