Dining Customs Around The World

Sovit Karki

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Food is the most important aspect of life. Through the civilizations humans living indifferent parts of the world developed their own cultures and food depending upon the geography they lived. Now the world is resided with  over 7 Billion people with various cultures and norms. The foods people eat vary from culture to culture depending upon the availability of the particular food in that geographical location. And, these cultures have their own ways and disciplines of consuming food to accommodate the eating process.

Living in the globalized today, it is interesting see and shares what and how people originating from different cultures eat. Most modern cities now have restaurants from all around the world. We love to go around and eat food from different cultures, but still are unknown about the practice of eating the food originally. It would be so weird for people in western society how people eat their meal in India or China.

I would like to explore through some cultures around the world where the ways of eating vary. I would like to start from the place where I was born and raised, Nepal.

1. Nepal/Indian Subcontinent

A typical Indian meal. Image Credit: Jack kennard (flickr)
A typical Indian meal. Image Credit: Jack Kennard (flickr)

The most common foods to have in every meal in Nepal are rice, lentils, curry mostly made from vegetables, and pickle. Traditionally the senior member of the family serves the food. Other family members line up sitting in the carpet made of straw maintaining quarter lotus position, and consume the meal through their right hand. Still today many people in remote Nepal use same methods to consume their meal. While in the urban areas, people have shifted to the dining tables, but many people still prefer to eat using their hands.

Kiran Singh, is a student  from New Delhi India currently living in Dublin Ireland. He says that the food they eat around India may vary according to the states and culture. “For instance in some places like Madras and Bengal fish should be the part of everyday meal. But, India’s common meal would be curry, chapatti, pickels, lentils and sweet.’’

“In the rural settings, family members sit down together on the floor mats, while in the urban area people dine in the tables but still prefer to use their hands.’’ In Hindu culture washing hands before eating is mandatory and considered as a discipline.

2. China

The meals in China usually include Chinese noodles, noodle soup, rice, and fofu. According to Yan, a student in Dublin from China people use chop sticks to eat their meal. “The family members sit around the table, but we let elder people to start first. In the middle of the tables there are bowels filled with rice, soup, noodles, and other varieties and you should help yourself to pick up the dish you like.”

According to China highlights, when you are helping yourself to get your favorite dish, you should not gobble it up as quickly as possible or put the plate in front of yourself and proceed to eat like a horse. “You should consider other at table”

3. Middle East

Arabic Food.
Arabic Food. Image Credit: Alia Bizreh

According to the Spoonuniversity.com, the most common foods in Middle East are hummus (a dip made of a base of chickpeas, tahini and garlic), lentil soup, rice, falafel (the fried balls made of chickpeas, onions and species, and pita bread.

In many Muslim cultures, people use their right hand to eat, eschewing utensils and sometimes both hands. If you drop on the ground, pick up, kiss it, and raise it to your forehead before putting back in your plate. This shows the respect for your food and the work that went into making it.

4. Africa

A typical African plate.
A typical African plate. Image Credit: Murhero Foundation (flickr)

The food around and the customs around the continent might vary as there are hundreds of diverse cultures around the continent. Some of the dishes are affected by the subsistence nature of living in many parts of continents while some are influenced by the foreign visitors and invaders.

The people in Ethopia have a tradition of hand feeding each other, called gursha. Its a gesture of hospitality that builds trusts and social bonds between those sharing the food.

5. Central America

A typical Costa-Rican plate
A typical Costa-Rican plate. Image Credit: sj_enerrgizr_bunny (flickr)

In Central American counties like Guatemala and El Salvador food and drink is primarily influenced from the ancient Mayan Cultures. Many of the dishes are made from corn. The ideal topping of the Central American meal is avocado. The ideal toast in Guatemala is salud. According to Etiquette Scholar  it is not ideal to start eating before the host says ‘Buen provenco’.

6. Japan

A typical Japanese lunch
A typical Japanese lunch. Image Credit: whity (flickr)

The most common foods in Japan are plain rice, noodles, pickled vegetables, sushi and bread. Mehini, auther at freahome writes, “The essence of Japanese traditional life style arranged with time and space is making a space which can change multi purposely.” The traditional  dining Japanese Zaisu chairs have a back and cushion but no legs. Japanese use chopsticks to eat their food. Before eating Japanese people say ‘itadakimasu’ , a polite phrase meaning “I receive the food.”

Traditional Japanese meals are taken sitting on the tatami, a reed like mat inset in the top of the floor. According to Japan Etiquette, the most honored position is in the middle of the table, with the second most important person seated next.

 

 

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Sovit Karki