This Spanish proverb goes to say that “wherever you travel, adapt to the local customs,” so if you travel to any of these countries, bear in mind these basic tips so that you don’t put your foot in it at a restaurant or even a private home where you are invited as a guest:

Don’t ask for salt or pepper if it is not already on the table. The Portuguese can take it as offensive towards the chef.

Bread is often used to push your food on to your fork. If you’re finished eating bread, leave it on the table, not on the plate. On the other hand, splitting the bill is not on the cards. If you don’t want to pay for the whole bill, somebody else will do it.

Cultural rules in Japan are very different to ours, and sometimes even strange, for instance they don’t leave a tip because they consider it in poor taste. The use of chopsticks is an ancient art form that is to be practiced with respect, so you should not lick them, use them to poke food or cross them, because it is bad manners to do so. Since they use chopsticks but not spoons, you can drink soup and even noodles from your bowl, slurping if you want to. It is a sign of approval towards the chef.

The service charge is normally included in the bill but if the service has been excellent you can leave a 5% to 10% tip. Don’t ask for cheese if they do not offer you any. They may not like to see you adding more cheese than what the chef has considered suitable.

Eat all the food on your plate because wasting it is considered a lack of respect. Wash your hands before and after eating. Since there is usually no silverware, always use your right hand. Don’t eat too fast or too slow.

Sharing food is quite common in Thailand, even switching dishes. Don’t eat with your fork: use it to push your food into the spoon. If there is a dish being shared, don’t take the last bit—leave it on the dish.

Don’t be afraid to burp. This is a token of appreciation towards the chef for the delicious meal. Always arrive on time to dinner and dress appropriately for the occasion. Don’t leave a tip and don’t finish all the food on your plate. Leaving something is a way of showing that your host served you enough food.

There are many more local customs but these are some of the ones that caught our attention. Have you ever had an uncomfortable experience from not knowing the local custom? Tell us about it! We can all surely learn from your experience! ;-)



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