We've found some etiquette pointers for graceful dining at any global event. From a packed Tokyo sushi bar to a communal Moroccan meal, these tips will keep you in your host’s good graces, and off the waiters’ blacklist.
It may be a bit tacky to cut rather than twirl the spaghetti while you are at your Italian team development conference or leadership retreat, but in China it’s downright unlucky. Long noodles symbolise long life, and chopping them up is akin to cutting your life short.
Bread is almost never served with butter, so don’t ask for it. When eating bread, tear off bite-size chunks; don’t pick up the while slice and chomp. It’s perfectly polite to get crumbs on the table – the French don’t use bread plates; they just set a hunk of baguette on the table.
Eating with your hands is the tradition in these regions. If you find yourself eating without silverware remember to use only your right hand - the left is considered “unclean.” Keep your eating as neat as possible, handling food with just your fingertips and thumb.
Food is managed with a fork and a spoon: hold the spoon in your right hand, and push a bit of food into it with your fork. Eat directly from the spoon, not the fork.
Just about every Italian dinner ends with espresso, but don’t’ try to trade up for a cappuccino. Frothy milk drinks are exclusively for the morning.
If a meal isn’t served with grated Parmesan, you don’t need it. Cheese isn’t meant for every type of pasta dish. And never, ever add cheese to seafood dishes.
When eating sushi, use your fingers (not chopsticks) and go easy on the soy sauce. Pour a little bit into a small dish and lightly dip your sushi in it with the fish side down.
If you’d like to share a bite with the person next to you, don’t pass it directly from your chopsticks to theirs – the gesture recalls the custom of transferring the cremated ashes of the deceased to a funerary urn. [Jessica Mueller, Virtuoso Life Magazine.]