I was on the morning Kingfisher flight to Mumbai yesterday. Must admit that Kingfisher is reinventing the culinary offers on a flight and trying out new things in a very creative way taking care of the local tastes into consideration. Since we were leaving Hyderabad ,it was sambhar vada for breakfast.
The aroma of the delightful sambhar excited my fellow traveler, a garrulous and portly businessman from Chennai . “ I love to eat with my hand.” He said sheepishly. “ Somehow I don’t feel like I have eaten when I eat with fork and spoon.” I smiled. I have lived long in Hyderabad to understand that.
He enquired how I managed in USA. I assured him that even Americans eat fried chickens with their hands. It set me thinking about how some customs , considered rude in one country , could be proper etiquette in another country and vice versa.
Any American house wife would be delighted if you leave nothing on the plate but never make the mistake of polishing off your plate if you are in China. It is considered rude. It is like you don’t get enough to eat at home!
Never ask for Ketchup from a French chef. It means that you didn’t like his food. I did that once and got ketchup and a stare!
Slurping is indeed a poor etiquette right? Wrong if you are in Japan. You are only showing your appreciation. And don’t forget to burp if you are invited in a Inuit house in Canada.
I have enjoyed some of the finest Polish food in London. There was a good restaurant close to our office. There was nothing gourmet about it.The people from Poland are a hard working lot and love to eat a hearty and wholesome meal. But remember never to flip a baked fish while eating. They are very superstitious about it. it means that you may capsize the fisherman’s boat.
We were taught by a British teacher Mrs. Brown in the primary school. She laid a lot of emphasis on good manners and etiquette. We were told that if you are invited to someone’s house and if you even find a fly in your soup, you should rather gulp it rather than embarrassing the host! I remembered her when I was in Togo, a west African country and saw webbed feet of chicken floating in the soup. I chose to
forget Mrs. Brown. Sorry Mam. I am much older than a third grader now.
And by the way,don’t wait for the evening if someone invites you for dinner in Scotland. You may get only get bones and crumbs. Yes, some Scots call their lunch as dinner.
My Bengali neighbor, true to his blue blooded Bengali blood, loved his fish. But he would never carry his raw fish in the right hand. That was totally inappropriate. Fish was always carried in the left hand while returning from the market!
My nephew is a great foodie and an expert on eating etiquette.
When there is chicken on his plate , he has two advises. Don’t try to share and don’t disturb while he’s enjoying!
I guess this would work in any part of the world.
By the way Indians would love to be in any Spanish bar. There it is not considered inappropriate to throw anything on the floor. They have a custom of cleaning everything in the end.
That leads to my maxim, “ Whatever be your quirks or idiosyncrasy, just hold the globe and turn it around. There would surely be some country some where in the world, which may just be right for you.”