The World’s Most Bizarre Food Etiquette Rules

By Nick Hadji 10 months ago

1. China - Don't finish ALL your food

Image source/ thekit.caNow in many countries it is polite to each all of your food to show gratitude and to show that you found the food tasty. But, in China you should not finish all of your food. It can be insulting to whoever was cooking the food, or the host as they will take this as a signal that you are still hungry.Original content sourced from

2. India - Don't thank friends/family for food

Image source/ bonappetourSaying thank you is often seen as a side of gratitude and appreciation which in many cultures is seen as mandatory. But not in India, unless you are at a restaurant or formal setting. Otherwise, thanking family or friends can be insulting as it suggests they are doing something out of the ordinary.

3. Russia - Never refuse vodka

Image source/ examinedlivingIn Russia there are many rules about vodka. The most important one to remember is that if anybody offers you vodka to drink, say yes. Otherwise, it can be perceived as insulting. Also, don't mix it. Even with ice cubes. Vodka in Russia should be drank pure.

4. France - Don't eat bread as an appetizer

Image source/ nomlistEven if bread is placed on the table first, in France, you should not eat it before your meal as an appetizer. It is not considered correct etiquette. Instead, you should instead eat it as an accompaniment with your meal or use it afterward to finish your meal.

5. Jordan - Tilt the coffee cup

Image source/ pinterestIn Jordan, before you hand the coffee cup back you must tilt the cup back and forth a couple of times if you don't want any more. Otherwise, you'll end up with another refill and another. This signals that you've had enough and then the host can stop refilling your cup.

6. Chile - Don't eat with your hands

Image source/ juanoffoodsIn Chile, unlike some countries it is not considered good etiquette to eat with your hands. You must always use a knife and fork to appear well mannered and corrects. Not to do so can insult whoever prepared the food, as well as those dining around you.

7. Brazil - Use your meat tokens accordingly

Image source/foodgloryThere are certain Brazilian meat restaurants called churrascaria where you are provided with endless meats. You can eat as much as you wish. The way to do this is to use your tokens. So, if you want more you use one token in some cases green. If you do not want somebody to bring you more, you must use the red.

8. Italy - Never eat pasta using a knife and fork

Image source/ nonnaboxIn Italy when you are eating pasta you should not pick up a knife, even if you are using it to push the spaghetti onto your fork. Only a fork should be used when you eat pasta. And of course, absolutely never chop up your spaghetti if you do not want to insult an Italian.

9. Korea - Eat when an elder eats

Image source/ PinterestIn  food etiquette is very much based on who you are dining with, especially the elders in the room. If somebody who is older than you is filling your drink, you should use both hands to receive it. Similarly, you can only start to eat once the eldest male around the table has started.

10. Britain - Pass the Port to your left

Image source/ EveningstandardThis tradition of passing port to the left side only is thought to have come from Naval traditions where they would pass the port around the table to their left. So, no matter if you are right or left-handed - make sure you always pass the port to the left.

11. Mexico - Eat tacos with your hands

Image source/ MatadorNetworkGet stuck in... In Mexico here's an opportunity not to worry about fine dining rules. It is purely about the enjoyment of the taco. In fact, it's actually seen negatively if you try and devour a taco with your knife and fork. Instead, just take it with your hands. It's actually less messy too.

12. Georgia - Don't sip your wine

Image source/ lostwithpurposeNow usually, we are told to sip rather than down our wine in one. In Georgia this is not the case. It is traditional at Georgian feats (which are called Supras) to drink the glass down in one gulp. In fact - sipping is seen as rude. However, the traditional glasses are small.

13. South India - Don't eat with your left hand

Image source/YouTubeIt is a South Indian custom that you must not eat with your left hand. To do so is seen as very rude. Your left hand, in the South of India, is connected to bodily functions and therefore it is seen as dirty. Whereas your right hand is seen as your eating hand.

14. Japan - Don't leave your chopsticks stuck in your rice

Image source/ chopstickchroniclesIf you leave your chopsticks sticking upwards in a bowl of rice, you may very well offend all of those around you. This tradition of sticking the chopsticks into a bowl of rice happens at funerals and so this gesture is reserved for that specific context only and is otherwise seen as inappropriate.

15. Thailand - Use the spoon to eat only

Image source/ YouTubeIn Thailand it is customary and considered good practice to only eat with a spoon and no other cutlery. A fork is just a way to help put things onto your spoon, to assist you rather than eat from. The only cutlery entering your mouth should be a spoon...definitely not a fork.

16. China - Don't flip the fish

Image source/ theworksoflifeIf you are ever cooking fish in China or hosting a Chinese supper for friends, then do not flip the fish whilst you are cooking it. After placing it on one side in the pan you must cook it from this side only by flipping the juices on to it. It is considered bad luck to flip it.

17. Hungary - Don't clink glasses during a cheers

Image source/ reader'sdigestCAIf you're about to do a cheers whilst in Hungary, then make sure you don't actually touch glasses for the clink effect. It will definitely not be received well. It is considered rude and from the past has been associated with politics. You may even be told off by elders.

18. Thailand - Don't order food in a group

Image source/ kungfuplazaIf you are in Thailand in a group setting in a restaurant, then unless you're the eldest woman you should not order food. You should not order for yourself, or even make suggestions of what you want to be ordered. This is down to the decision of the eldest lady.

19. Guatemala - If you invite someone you pay

Image source/ PinterestBill splitting and bill paying can be contentious. It depends wherever you are, what the situation is and what country you are in. In Guatemala, if you as someone out to dinner then the expectation is that you pay. Otherwise, it is seen as rude as you would not want to assume that the person you invited had the means to pay.

20. Spain - Feel free to lurk for a table

Image source/ eaterNYDepending on the restaurant, in Spain, getting a table can be a question of lurking by a table and grabbing what you can get. For example, if it is a tapas restaurant there is no queuing or waitlist, it is literally a first come first served basis and so it is not seen as impolite to wait by a table.

21. Italy - Don't drink cappuccino any time after lunch

Image source/ tabruzzocibusIn Italy, espresso is served all day and it can be consumed at any time. But when it comes to cappuccino it is considered a breakfast drink only. Any time before lunch it can be considered acceptable. But afterwards, it is a huge faux pas. Then, it's best to stick to espresso.

22. India - Finish all of your food

Image source/ tripsavvyLike in many countries, in India it is considered good manners to finish all of your food. Not to do so can not only be seen as very wasteful but it also is a sign of a lack of gratitude. So, it's always good to take what you can eat so that you do not have to leave any food on your plate.

23. Ethiopia - Eat from the same plate

Image source/ JewishfoodexperienceEthiopian custom is to share one huge plate in the middle of the table. Then everybody shares and takes the food from the middle. Other plates are just seen as excessive and a waste. And food is seen as a very communal experience in which everybody enjoys sharing.

24. Japan - Don't pass from chopstick to chopsticks

Image source/ touristsecretsIf you are visiting Japan, then it is important to be aware of this Japanese custom. Do not pass food from chopstick to chopstick. This is associated with funerals and the passing of the bones which is done by chopsticks in this way. So, it is seen as something that can only be done in this context.

25. Nigeria - Women cannot use spoons

Image source/ igboguideIn some tribes in Nigeria women are not allowed to have a spoon, or ask to eat with a spoon. This is reserved for men only. This tradition and custom comes from the belief that a woman with a spoon causes insurgency and is still upheld within certain tribes.

26. Britain - A teaspoon cannot touch the sides of the teacup

Image source/ PinterestIn Britain, tea is highly prized. And, when it comes to drinking it there are a few traditions. First, don't let the teacup touch the sides of your cup when stirring. And don't leave the teaspoon in the cup. Traditionally both of these things were considered highly uncouth...

27. China - Feel free to burp

Image source/ YouTubeIt is not often that burping is seen in a positive light. In many places, it would be considered the hight of rudeness to burp at the table. In China, burping after a meal whether in company or not is a sign of enjoyment and therefore it is actually viewed as a compliment to the chef.

28. England - Tilt the soup away

Image source/ tasteatlasIn England when eating soup, it was traditionally thought that the proper way to eat soup was by tilting the soup bowl away from you. Then, with your teaspoon you were supposed to scoop away from the bowl, so that the bowl and the spoon are turning outwards rather than towards you. Then, delicately sip the teaspoon.

29. Austria - No need to tip

Image source/ PinterestIn Austria it is not thought ungracious if you decide not to leave a tip. This is at the discretion of the customer and how they viewed the service. And moreover, if you've asked for your bill three or more times and not received it then the unspoken agreement is that it is acceptable to leave the restaurant at this pint without paying

30. Madagascar - Only pick up cutlery after an elder has

Image source/ madmissionsIn Madagascar there are many traditions to do with eating and respect. So, a lot of this is to do with respecting elders. Therefore, in Madagascar, do not pick up the cutlery before an elder. Only when they have picked up their cutlery are you allowed to do so.

31. Italy: Never Drink Cappuccino After A Meal

Image Source / HuffPost

The reason that Italians don't order a cappuccino specifically after a meal is because of the milk content - they won't consume milk after a meal, because it can actually cause a problem for healthy digestion. That's why other milk-less coffees (like espresso) are better after eating!

32. Ancient Greece: Only Eat Meat Killed By Ritual Sacrifice

Image Source / Look and Learn

If you were a resident of Ancient Greece during this time, then you would have needed to consume only animals killed through ritualistic sacrifice. This is because animals were sacrificed to the Gods in this way, before the meat was consumed and the bones and fat set aside for the Gods.

33. Middle East: Only Eat With Your Right Hand

Image Source / KQED

In the Middle East, the left hand is associated with bodily functions, so it's seen in poor taste to eat with that one... You have to eat and socialise with your right hand only. If you're left-handed, you best learn how to eat with your right hand quick!

34. India: Don't Even Touch Your Plate With Your Left Hand

Image Source / Wego Travel Blog

 The same left-hand rule applies in India and parts of Africa, too. But in India it's much more strict in that you shouldn't even touch your plate with your left hand, even if you're still eating with your right. This rule also stretches - outside of cuisine - to not using your left hand to hand out important documents either!

35. Britain: Mention The Bishop Of Norwich

Image Source / Wikipedia

This relates to the etiquette rule of passing the port to the left. You also need to mention the Bishop of Norwich - for some reason - if - for some reason - the decanter of port stops moving around the table. If it does, you have to say, 'Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?'. If they say no, you have to say, 'He's a very good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port'. Yep.

36. Italy: Don't Ask For Parmesan

Image Source / Fisher and Woods

A lot of pasta dishes, including pizza, aren't intended to be paired with parmesan cheese. So in a lot of cases, asking for parmesan cheese can be seen as ruining the original recipe when it should have a different flavour, or a different cheese. The easiest way to follow is if the dish should have it, they'll offer it. So if they don't, just leave it!

37. Korea: Lift Your Glass With Both Hands For An Elder To Fill

Image Source / Metro

If an older person in Korea offers you a drink or to refill your glass, hold the glass with both hands to lift for them to fill. It's a sign of respect in Korean culture and it's a very important cultural tradition. A lot of Koreans might find they automatically reach for things with both hands!

38. Korea: Turn Your Head Away To Sip

Image Source / Healthline

Another rule for this particular custom when showing respect for elders is, when they have finished pouring into the glass you're holding with both hands, to turn your head away and take a small sip with your head still turned.

39. Italy: Don't Mix Seafood And Cheese

Image Source / Food Republic

If you're ordering a seafood dish, it's important not to be tempted to ask for cheese. It's actually seen as rude by locals, due to their belief that those two flavours just should not go together and fight against their individual flavours!

40. Egypt And Portugal: Don't Use Salt And Pepper

Image Source / Wikipedia

For most people, reaching for the salt and pepper pots is just normality to start off a meal. But in both of these countries, it's actually a bit insulting to put salt and pepper on your food before eating it because it implies to the chef that you don't think their food is seasoned enough!

41. India: 'Thank You' Is Only For Formal Settings

Image Source /

In Western culture, it can be seen extremely rude if you don't say thank you in everyday situations - such as someone holding the door for you, saying thank you to the person on the till or thanks to the post man. But in India, a 'thank you' should be reserved for only formal occasions.

42. Japan: Slurp Your Noodles

Image Source / Sky News

The idea of someone slurping their food can be a little cringey, but in Japan it isn't actually considered annoying. Slurping is a sign that you're very much enjoying your meal, so it's considered a compliment. Not only that, but apparently slurping can also better bring out the flavours in the noodles!

43. Italy: Don't Ask For Ketchup

Image Source / FAIL Blog - Cheezburger

Sad news if you're ordering a big stack of French fries and usually have ketchup with them. In this country, you should never ask for ketchup, and you'll just have to resist the urge until you get back home and can go to the McDonald's drive thru!

44. Egypt: Don't Refill Your Own Glass

Image Source / Science ABC Never reach for the water jug yourself if you need a refill in Egypt - always wait for someone else to do it for you. It's consider poor manners if you interrupt a meal or party to refill your glass. Usually the person next to you will offer to fill it for you, and likewise you keep an eye on their glass so you can offer to refill it for them, too.

45. France: Don't Offer To Split The Bill

Image Source / Wini Moranville

Don't go to France if you don't have a lot of spare cash because you might end up footing the entire bill. This is because, if you eat out in France, it's actually considered as something 'not done' to split the bill with whoever you're eating with. You either need to pay the whole thing, or let someone else pay for the whole thing.

46. Italy: Don't Ask For Extra Things For Your Pizza

Image Source / Conde Nast Traveler

Some people might like a big dollop of garlic mayo for their takeout pizza, or maybe you want a big pile of extra cheese on top. All of this is a no-no if you've ordered pizza in Italy. Never ask for anything extra, including condiments, unless they're actually offered to you.

47. Japan: Don't Leave A Tip


Some places, like America, expect a tip as a common custom. And in other areas of the world, it's a done thing, especially if you've received exceptional service. But in Japan, it isn't the case - and if you do try and tip someone, in some areas of Japan they may even reject it.

48. Italy: Don't Ask For Chicken With Pasta

Image Source / Simply Delicious

Most people would agree that chicken in pasta tastes amazing, and it's a great way to bump it up a bit and make it more filling. But apparently in Italy, it's a no-no to ask for chicken with your pasta. This is because the textures are believed to be too similar.

49. Japan And China: Use The Blunt End Of Chopsticks If Using Shared Dishes

Image Source / Facebook

It's a custom for plates of food to be shared around the table in Japan and China, but when doing this, it's important to use the blunt end of the chopsticks to pick from, and dip into, shared plates. You shouldn't use the pointed end, as it's the side that goes into your mouth.

50. Kazakhstan: A Full Cup Of Tea Can Be A Bad Sign

Image Source / The Sandy Feet

In Kazakhstan, it's more the 'done thing' to serve a cup of tea that's only filled halfway. This isn't anything to do with pessimism or optimism, of course. It's just a good sign and the normal thing. When a cup of tea is completely full, however, this can be a sign that the host would prefer it if you left!