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Table Manners : Different People Different Stokes

Updated on June 27, 2011

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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    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 8 years ago from India

      francia, it is so funny the way we are the same and still so different.

      Brian generalizations are dangerous at times :)

      My pleasure Red Elf.

      Duchess, I'm sure they won't force you to sit on the floor, stools are always available.

      So true bingskee, so true.

      Philipo and Yangtze, thanks for the appreciation and encouragement.

    • Yangtze profile image

      Yangtze 8 years ago

      Thanks so much for the useful information on the dinning cultural differences between different countries.

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 8 years ago from Nigeria

      Different strokes for different folks. There is indeed different cultures. The way and manner people do things including eating really differs. Thanks for sharing.

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      it is interesting to note that people from all over the world are diverse. having said that, it pays to learn first before making comments, or judgments as well.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      hmmm, not something one thinks about normally unless you are from a different culture than the one you live in or are visiting.

      Might be a good idea to look into that before making your travel arrangements so you know what to expect. Me, I don't think I'd be able to get back up off the floor if I had to sit there to eat. The old bones would argue too much!

      Good information

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much for this interesting and informative Hub. It is great to be able to vicariously experience the culture and customs of others!

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Interesting read, I think that even neighbors can have significant differences to the way they eat, just look at the French and the English. For one food and eating is a social occasion and for the other its just a time to satisfy a need quickly. A sweeping generalisation of course, but aren't they the best?

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 8 years ago from Philippines

      This is a good hub for people to appreciate cultural diversity at meal time. Thanks for this hub.