Do you like Asia? The diversity of cultures in just one country could leave you feeling dizzy. So, imagine the beauty of several languages and cultures you could find in this continent. Asia is known for its unique culture, wisdom and food recipes you may never have heard of. However, when it comes to food, you can’t follow American or European etiquettes. And mind you, Asians take their food very seriously. Here are some etiquettes that will help you while travelling in Asia.
India & other South Asian countries
If you are travelling to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or other South Asian countries, you may be expected to eat with your hands. While cutlery is used at most places, most South Asians still prefer to eat with their hands- that includes rice, flatbreads and a host of curry dishes. Also, you are supposed to eat only with your right hand. In some parts of South India, you can’t even touch your plate with your left hand.
Your chopstick skills will decide if you are going to impress the locals. However, no matter what you do, ensure that you don’t ever stick your chopsticks upright into the rice bowl. This is done only during funeral ceremonies and is considered inappropriate on other occasions. The host will usually provide you a chopstick stand.
The tips of the sticks that you have been using to eat can be placed on that stand. If the host has not provided the stand, simply place your chopsticks between you and your bowl. Also, make sure that the sticks are placed parallel to the table’s edge i.e. horizontally. You could offend your host if you don’t do so.
Also, it is considered a sign of great respect for the cook if you leave a little food in your plate. No, don’t leave a quarter of your serving there. Just a little bite or a few grains of rice will be enough. It is considered a sign of respect and you are signalling to the cook that you liked their food.
Eating fish is very common in southern parts of China and in Hong Kong. However, flipping the fish is considered a sign of bad luck. It is considered that you are signalling that the fisherman’s boat capsizes while in the sea. There are many other sea-related superstitions that will get you angry stares. It is better to eat the fish in such a way that you don’t waste much of it. See how locals are eating it. Some will leave the bottom part untouched while the others will pull the bone off.
Most people do not like the use of fork for putting food in your mouth. Instead, it is used as an accessory with the spoon. You simply use it to scoop some food on your spoon but never eat with a fork directly. Just like India and other South Asian countries, it is perfectly okay to eat with your hands especially if you are eating rice dishes (such dishes are usually very sticky). Also, don’t eat a rice dish with chopsticks. Nobody likes to do that in Thailand.
If you are travelling to any of these countries, make sure that you keep their food etiquette in mind.