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The World’s Most Curious Manners

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The World’s Most Curious Manners

By Annie Tucker Morgan, DivineCaroline

If you grew up in the United States and thought American table manners were tough to remember—Keep your elbows off the table! Don’t talk with your mouth full! Always pass the salt and pepper together!—think again. Just as complicated, try eating a casual group dinner in one of these other countries, where the slightest indiscretion with a pair of chopsticks or the position of your feet can land you in the doghouse with your host.


  • Dinner guests are treated like royalty: they’re seated farthest from the door, they’re offered food first and expected to eat the most, and they’re always given the prime portion from each dish.
  • If you drop bread on the floor while dining at a table, pick it up, kiss it, and touch it to your forehead before putting it somewhere other than the floor.


  • Dishes should be served from the left and removed from the right. Guests should be served first.
  • Do not answer the phone at the dinner table.
  • Always chew with your mouth closed, and do not talk until it is empty.
  • Eat quietly and do not slurp your food.
  • Eat only one helping of food, unless the host specifically encourages you to take seconds.
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1:40PM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Interesting,thanks for sharing

11:18AM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

a lot of these are not really exclusive to the cultures to which they're ascribed by this article. and most are cross-cultural.

2:50AM PST on Jan 28, 2013

I don't really understand why it's weird that guest should be served first, that you shouldn't answer your phone during dinner, rummage around the serving dish, leave the table until everyone is finished, chew with your mouth closed... It all just seems like decent manners.

12:55AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

In Home Ec, we also learned to chew with mouth closed, don't appear hungry by only cutting up one piece of food at a time and to chew and eat slowly. We also learned about nutrition and what to eat if one is a vegetarian. Plus, how to extend meals when low on money.

I am suprised to learn they don't teach Home Economics anymore. It was a really great practical and useful class. I really liked the introduction to using a sewing machine. I have used one since.

12:48AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

That is, the knife and fork on the plate with the tines facing downward and the napkin to the right side of the plate(for when one is finished eating).

12:46AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

The mannerisms from Chile seem pretty standard American fare as well. I was also taught to use the Tablespoon to twirl my spaghetti in and when I am done with a meal, place the fork on the plate with the tines facing downward to indicate I am finished/ full. Acutally, in Home Economics in 8th grade we learned how to set a table, what silverware to use for what food, that it is perfectly appropriate to use a knife to cut up large pieces of the salad, fold napkins, the order to serve food in, and how to seat guests as well. We also learned to sew and cook.

4:24AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

i read thru' the list, generally speaking as a Muslim, all the good mannerisms apply. thanks, will re-post!

8:41AM PDT on Oct 8, 2012

there are other customs/habits too in other places. e.g. in borneo islands some tribes consider it rude if you do not eat the meals served. so no matter however full you are from a previous meal, you must take a little bit. there are other eating customs but i cannot recall the rest. e.g. in some malay cultures the wife must serve the entire family before eating the food etc.

11:47AM PDT on Jul 18, 2012

Japan: "When eating hot noodles, you are encouraged to make a slurping noise"


Very bizarre manners, thanks for sharing.

3:12AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Thank God for home where you can be yourself!

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people are talking

Very helpful - thanks for sharing

Great article -thank you for bringing all this to my attention! I previously thought I had plastics …

Throw in a little brown sugar plus bacon or ham and they just keep getting better.


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