Mealtime for our early ancestors was simply food set before hungry individuals to fill them as quickly as possible. Overtime, human society was shaped by the development of the worlds’ major religions. Hospitality and charity became a virtue and were needed to have a The sharing of food took on a social significance and with that the manners of the diners began to change. Although dining etiquette has changed drastically over the centuries it is still very important in most cultures and what is proper in one setting maybe considered rude in another.
In Japanese culture, an honored guest sits at the center of the table furthest from the door and begins eating. It is very important in Japanese culture to learn the proper way to use chopsticks; never point with them, pierce anything with them, and when the meal is finished place them on the chopstick rest if one is provided. Also, although you don’t have to finish everything on your plate, it is proper to try a bit of everything.
In Germany, you must remain standing until you are told when to sit, if it takes a little while you will have to wait, and the host must signal you to start eating. While eating, hold the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right and do not put your elbows on the table. Be prepared to have a big meal and you must finish everything on the plate! Once you are finished with your meal leave the knife and fork parallel to each other on the right side of the plate. When invited to dine in someone’s home in Mexico don’t arrive early. It is best if you are at least 30 minutes late. Wait until you are asked to sit and don’t start to eat until after the hostess has started. Don’t rest your hands in your lap; they should never be under the table. Don’t clean your plate; it is polite to leave some food on your plate after a meal. And when you are finished eating, place the fork (prongs facing down) and knife across your plate, with the handles facing to the right.
In India it is rude for your host to not offer you food multiple times and it is customary to share food with anyone who wants it. It is not necessary to taste each and every dish prepared, but you should finish everything on the plate as it is considered a respect for served food, and food is sacred. Also, it is expected that no one should leave the table before the host or the eldest person have finished their food.
In America we are accustomed to observing basic table manners however, it is not as strict as in other countries and there are things we do that might be taboo in other cultures. Dining etiquette is something to be
taken seriously and you should do your homework if you intend on dining
with someone of a different culture or plan to travel to a foreign country.
You don’t ever want to offend anyone unintentionally.