Table Manners : Different People Different Stokes
Dining Table Manners
The fact that humans must eat food to survive is universal. What is not universal is the food that they eat, and how they eat it.
Beef or Pork
In predominantly Hindu Nations like India you can not even imagine eating Beef in some cities. This is because the Cow is worshiped as a Goddess by the Hindus. Similarly in predominantly Muslim Nations in the Middle East there is no way you'll get Pork in the open market. The swine is considered an impure animal and to consume it would pollute the Muslim. So the kind of meat you eat is dictated in part by where in the world you stay. Although almost everyone loves a good leg of chicken. OH wait a minute I forgot about the vegetarians.
The Table or the Floor
Religious sentiments aside, even the way that food is eaten is different in different countries. In the west the general custom is to eat food at a dining table sitting on chairs placed around it. While in Asia the custom is to dine sitting down on the floor. A custom that many western visitors find rather uncomfortable. The more common custom these days seems to be the Buffet table. A good middle of the road approach which suits both parties. Pile food onto your plate and head for where you can comfortably consume it.
Crockery and Cutlery
There is no side plate for bread on some dining tables, and at others their absence is a major faux pax. While a Chapati is placed not on a side dish but in the main plate that you are eating in. Individual plates for all? Not so if you are eating biryani on Id. All guests and family members dig into the biryani on a gigantic plate with their hands. No need for forks and spoons thank you. Naturally it will be considered highly impolite by some others!
Help Yourself or be Served
It is an essential part of fine dining to be served at the table in the western countries by trained waiters. In India the ladies of the house serve the gents while they eat and serve themselves after they have finished. It used to be customary for the wife to eat in the husband's used plate. Also while you ask someone to pass the butter or salt at a western table, at an oriental one you help yourself. Yes you can thrust your hand over the plate of another and help yourself to what you want and that's considered polite!
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