Saturday, August 8, 2009

Terrible Etiquette Mistakes From Around the World

Politely placing the napkin on your lap and keeping your elbows off the table may be the etiquette essentials here in the good ol' USA but when it comes to hanging with friends and colleagues around the world, etiquette often takes on new meanings. Foxy talked to some international friends and did some digging on to find these important tips to keep in mind before you socialize or break bread with pals from across the ponds.

Coffee Break We may gulp lattes all day long, regardless of what time it is here, but in many European countries cappuccinos and other coffee drinks made with milk are enjoyed during the morning hours only. Espresso is what's consumed in the afternoons and evenings. So, don't be surprised when you get a funny look from the waiter after ordering your double latte with extra cream after that pesto pasta lunch.

No Ketchup Please Many French chefs are appalled if guests add condiments like ketchup and mustard to their culinary masterpieces before taking the first bite. They think it masks the true taste of the food -- so get used to your "pommes frites" without that dousing of ketchup.

Oops, All Gone Here in the States, it seems we've been taught to always clear our plates. In China on the other hand, if you gobble up every last morsel it could be insulting to the host as it means that he/she hasn't provided enough food. Keep things on the up and up and leave a few bites left. We're guessing it's probably best not to ask for a doggie bag, either!

Heads Up In Thailand, no matter how adorable someone's child is, resist the urge to give them a friendly pat on the noggin. It's taboo to touch the head, which is a revered body part.

No Sharing No matter how mouthwatering your palak paneer is, offering someone a taste from your plate is a big no-no in India, since it's considered unclean. Enjoy your dinner and rave about it all you want, but keep it to yourself.

A Few Pointers In India, if you want to call someone over, never use your finger to point or wag -- it's seen as condescending and insulting. Instead, hold your hand out, palm down, and scoop with your fingers. You'll get much better results!

Better Than Butter While dining out in Spain, get used to the idea of bread without butter. Ask for it at a restaurant and you'll most likely be told they don't have any. The preferred practice is to dip bread in olive oil -- and if you ask us, it's much yummier anyway!

A - O - K Never give anyone in Brazil the "OK" hand signal (using your thumb and pointer finger to make an O)... it's an obscene gesture that's likely to get you labeled both ignorant and extremely offensive!

Meat 'n' Milk
In Israel, unless you know otherwise, assume that a household keeps kosher. That means mixing meat and dairy is not allowed. So no milk in your coffee after a belly-busting beef dinner (and no cheese on that burger, either!).

Sticky Splinters We're all familiar with the wooden chopsticks you get at Asian restaurants. They come stuck together, and you snap them apart which usually leaves a few stray splinters on the end. If this happens in Japan, holding the chopsticks between your palms and loudly clattering them together is a big insult to the waiter or sushi chef because it indicates that his utensils are cheap. Instead, rub one chopstick against the other gently.

Throw In The Towel In a Japanese restaurant, if you're given a hot rolled towel, use it only to wipe your hands. It's generally considered rude to wipe your face with (although at more informal restaurants, people may occasionally be seen doing it).

Service With A Smile Here in the US, many of us are used to serving ourselves and digging in family style at meals. But in China it's common for the host to place food on the guest's plates, so resist the urge to scoop up another helping of rice -- practice sitting back and relaxing, and enjoy letting the host put you on a pedestal.

Sole Purpose Think twice before sitting too casually in Egypt, or even stretching out your gams. Showing the soles of your feet or shoes is considered to be terribly rude -- yes, even if you're sporting Jimmy Choos!

Lip Service No matter how parched your lips may be, when traveling in Zimbabwe, never lick your lips while looking at someone of the opposite sex. While it may seem innocent enough to you, they consider it an obscene gesture.

Baby Steps Have a friend in Russia who's expecting a babe? Go ahead and browse all you want, but don't give them anything until after the little one arrives. It's considered bad luck to do so sooner.

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