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WonderWoman
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Here in the U.S. pretty much all bodily functions are considered to be rude. Often I hear that in "other countries" it is considered a compliment to the chef for a person to burp after a meal. Is this actually commonplace, or is it simply a myth spread by school children as a response to being admonished for burping loudly?
My husband swears that he heard this was a common practice in France, and he's looking forward to visiting Paris so he can let out a huge belch after a meal in a restaurant.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I would love to know this one as well... I have heard that there are countries that to NOT belch was a horrible insult to the cook.

Why is it that I keep thinking Germany or eastern European??

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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In Ukraine and Russia, belching is rude. I would think that it is in Germany as well.

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c p
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My old French teacher told us it's absolutely not a polite thing, ever, to burp at the table in France. Her theory was that American anti-French sentiments had something to do with it being told about the French. But then, my Latin teacher told us it was some kind of hazing thing that Germans told foreigners. (Something like that...) I guess both theories make sense...anyway, it seems like too many countries have this mysterious custom to give it much credibility.

I wouldn't advise making the first burp in the crowd.

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Morrison's Lament
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In China this is a fact. I lived there for three years.

Picking your teeth, acting like you're very full (leaning back and going "aaahhhhhh!") as well as understated burping. We're not talking frat party style thirty second long eardrum busters, just a couple of burps to show you're really really full.

Also, you are expected to slurp your soup. It won't offend anyone if you don't, but they will think you're weird - about as weird as they look to you when they slurp the soup and get it all over their faces [Wink]

Oh, and NEVER refill your own glass from the pitcher! I've never been among any Chinese, no matter how westernized, that wouldn't be made uncomfortable by this. They will, however, keep filling yours, sometimes just adding a drop or two. This means THEY need a refill, you are supposed to immediately reciprocate. So to recap: pour for someone that just poured for you, if you need a refill just pour someone a few drops even if he doesn't need it.

Here in Germany it is definitely considered rude to burp at the table, or in public in general. I suspect the original rumour came from China. Europe really isn't that exotic [Wink]

--- G.

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Cervus
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As a young child, I learned that if I belched often enough at the table, my mother would get pissed and send me to my room without making me finish dinner. That trick came in handy on several occasions, especially when my grandmother had over-boiled all the food. [Wink]

Cer (Green beans are not supposed to be gray mush!) vus

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Morrison's Lament
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What is it about elderly Westerners and overboiling everything? From my youth I remember seeing some things being boiled to the point where you could no longer seperate or sieve it from the water it was boiled in... [Frown]

--- G.

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GooglyEyes
The First USA Noel


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Overboiling, not checking expiration dates...I think these are all signs of the mind going past the ripe stage.

One x-mas my grandmother was getting ready to make her traditional egg salad for everyone, and a few of my cousins were helping peel the hardboiled eggs. Well, the eggs were not overboiled, but the shells were a semi-funky color, and when they opened the first few eggs, they realised these eggs were beyond bad. Totally green inside, and the date on the carton was almost a year ago.

Needless to say, no one eats anything made by my grandmother anymore *shudder*

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WildaBeast
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Morrison's Lament:
Oh, and NEVER refill your own glass from the pitcher! I've never been among any Chinese, no matter how westernized, that wouldn't be made uncomfortable by this. They will, however, keep filling yours, sometimes just adding a drop or two. This means THEY need a refill, you are supposed to immediately reciprocate. So to recap: pour for someone that just poured for you, if you need a refill just pour someone a few drops even if he doesn't need it.

Is that why the waiters at Chineese resturaunts keep refilling my water? [Big Grin]

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"Unseasonable is an odd word to begin with. It sounds like it's describing something that it's impossible to sprinkle pepper on." -- Nonny

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Morrison's Lament
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The waiters, if they are around, are a different story naturally [Wink]

--- G.

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Brian O'blivion
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Often I hear that in "other countries" it is considered a compliment to the chef for a person to burp after a meal.
Middle Eastern countries? There's a scene in "Ben Hur" where Charlton Heston is the dinner guest of a sheik. Chuck compliments the meal but the sheik keeps looking at him expectantly until another guest (one of the three wise men, wouldn't you know) signals to him that he's supposed to burp. Don't know if this represents any real custom ancient or modern....or maybe some screenwriter heard something about it from his aunt who knew a guy with an Arab mechanic.
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Frenchy
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quote:
My husband swears that he heard this was a common practice in France, and he's looking forward to visiting Paris so he can let out a huge belch after a meal in a restaurant.
No way!! Of course, you always will have the lager lout who belches with a horrible noise, and all his mates cheer and applause... Believe me, this is NOT common practice in France, and is indeed very rude to do so at the table, and anywhere else for that matter (if you do, you must apologise profusely... Some people will tell you it's quite all right, just to quieten your embarrassement... but take my word for it, you don't want to do that in front of grand-ma)
Take it from me, anything that you wouldn't do in the US (ANYTHING!) applies also to France. What is it with this tendency to believe we're pigs?? [Eek!]
(do I also need to specify that most of us also DO wash daily?) [Roll Eyes]

It's the same rule in Germany.

I was invited at an ex-bf (at the time bf)'s house and his sister, during the meal, dropped a big loud burp. I was embarrassed for her (and probably blushed) but nobody responded. I thought that must be common practice in their family... I have to admit, my opinion of my then bf kind of dropped from then on... [Embarrassed]

I believe this is true in Arabic countries (I have witnessed it in Northern Africa but not sure about anywhere else)

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WonderWoman
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quote:

Take it from me, anything that you wouldn't do in the US (ANYTHING!) applies also to France. What is it with this tendency to believe we're pigs?? [Eek!]
(do I also need to specify that most of us also DO wash daily?) [Roll Eyes]

Just to let you know, I was in no way implying that we thought the French were "pigs." My husband was going on something he heard, probably from some moron in West Virginia (where he grew up). The whole reason I came here to ask the question was because I didn't want him to embarass himself or cause anyone to believe that all Americans are pigs. I didn't believe that practice was common in France, I assume that most western cultures have similar taboos regarding bodily functions.
When travelling abroad, I go out of my way to not perpetuate any negative American stereotypes and to blend in as best as possible with the locals. I prefer to learn about foreign cultures and assimilate myself rather than be the stereotypical American tourist that wants a McDonald's on every corner and expects everyone to speak English. My cousin's redneck ex-wife was like that. I was embarassed that she had gone to Europe with that attitude while representing my country as a member of the Army. Her scathing comments about European food in particular made both my husband and me cringe and vow to pretend to be Canadian on our next trip abroad.

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Frenchy
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I understand what you're saying... I just wanted to clarify that most bodily...er... 'functions' [lol] are usually not accepted at the table, in France or elsewhere in Europe I believe...

Since nobody replied directly to that, I wanted to make it ESPECIALLY clear that not all French (but of course, some are! [Roll Eyes] ) are disgusting.
It's very much something a lot of people say about us (esp. the 'not washing' syndrome!) and it is upsetting, because of course, nobody likes to be called 'stinky'! [Embarrassed]

I recommend a good guide to the visiting country ('Routard' guides in French are good; 'lonely planet' in English are also good) before you set a foot there, because usually, it spells it out quite clearly. [Cool]

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CatoSH
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Now that we've clarified the French thing (actually, I go to France usually at least once a year, and I'd say that the French are generally much more polite than English-speaking people. Excepting French waiters [Wink] ) -- the Chinese thing with water I just learned about last Thursday! I was with a company MD and he said that the Chinese also get very twitchy around Western visitors, because they assume that they don't know this, but still can't bear to see you pouring for yourself... so, everytime he went for the pitcher to pour for his companion, the companion would get very nervous and bring his glass closer, so that there was no possibility of him getting it wrong. Seems so strange to me, to worry so much about who fills whose water! But I guess someone from a burping culture might find it strange that we are still offended by their burps even though we know it's polite in their culture...
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Frenchy
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quote:
Excepting French waiters
But at least, it's one of the rare countries where you can still say if you're unhappy with it! (or you show your annoyance by giving ZERO in tips... Wherever you go in the world, it seems that there is an implied -depends where it is, but usually, it's not stated on your bill that you must!- rule that you somehow 'must' tip) [Mad]
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Mosherette
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I've heard that one, specifically about Middle Eastern countries.

I learned the Chinese slurping thing from a friend whose brother lived in Hong Kong. Last time I went to a Chinese restaurant I slurped to my heart's content (hurrah! Bye bye table manners!) and earned a cheerful grin from our waitress and horrified amusement from the MIL [Big Grin]

On a similar note, one I've often heard about the US is that over there it's considered rude to completely clear your plate if you're at a dinner party. Allegedly, clearing your plate implies that your host or hostess has not provided enough food to satisfy your appetite, so you should always leave something, even the tiniest morsel, to indicate that you've eaten enough.

Any thoughts?

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CatoSH
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Not sure about leaving a bit of food in the US... I lived in Florida, and I was taught to clean my plate. I think my mother would have been offended if guests didn't devour every last morsel whilst exclaiming how divinely beautiful a concoction it was. But that may just have been my family [Wink]

One thing I recall from the US -- and others can correct me if this was regional or if it no longer applies -- I seem to recall that it was considered very rude to take food home with you, say for example if your company had provided a buffet of finger food, and at the end of the evening you wanted to take some of it home with you. My mother had an Irish colleague and they used to be quite catty about her taking food home after their work dos. Whereas, in the UK, every place I've ever worked they've encouraged us to take stuff away with us.

ETA: seems strange now that I think of it, the US being the birth place of the doggy bag and so on... maybe it was just a local peculiarity...

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WildaBeast
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Bad Kitty:
On a similar note, one I've often heard about the US is that over there it's considered rude to completely clear your plate if you're at a dinner party. Allegedly, clearing your plate implies that your host or hostess has not provided enough food to satisfy your appetite, so you should always leave something, even the tiniest morsel, to indicate that you've eaten enough.

Interesting... I've heard the same thing about China.

As far as I'm concered leaving food behind is just wasteful, although I usually have to because I usually end up taking more than I can eat.

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"Unseasonable is an odd word to begin with. It sounds like it's describing something that it's impossible to sprinkle pepper on." -- Nonny

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Frenchy
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quote:
On a similar note, one I've often heard about the US is that over there it's considered rude to completely clear your plate if you're at a dinner party. Allegedly, clearing your plate implies that your host or hostess has not provided enough food to satisfy your appetite, so you should always leave something, even the tiniest morsel, to indicate that you've eaten enough.
I think it’s true for most European countries (in theory; if you read a book on etiquette from your home country, chances are this will be in it! I doubt a lot of people actually implement every single 'rule' on etiquette though... As long as it's what's accepted behaviour nowadays, then you're in the clear) but as the etiquette also tells you when you ‘lay your cutlery nicely across the plate’ (ie., no thanks, I want no more) then it’s appropriate to finish your meal entirely… I personally will always leave something if I’m with people I know little or who I need to impress (work colleagues I don’t really know, persons who invite me to dinner but I barely know etc): a bit of lettuce, a bit of fat from the meat, a couple of green beans etc...
At a friend’s, I’d probably finish it all off, say ‘oh that was SO lovely’ and if they ask and I want more, I’d say ‘yes, with pleasure. It’s so great I’ll forget my manners if you insist’… or something similar. If I’m full I’ll say similarly ‘oh, it was so lovely but I’m really too full!’ or if you have spotted the nice desert, say you reserve some space for it.
In summary, I think any situation is acceptable if you don’t make it obvious that the host is just stingy (you eat it all, and drool everywhere fixing the dish in front of you) or that the cooking is just disgusting (you ate it painfully, and leave the table running).
My instincts tell me: compliment the cook no matter what and you can't go wrong.

quote:
Whereas, in the UK, every place I've ever worked they've encouraged us to take stuff away with us.
I think it’s ok if you’re “invited” to take the food home with you (why not?) but I would never ask directly if I could take food home or just go to the table at the end and stuff my pockets/bag. I know the tradition of ‘doggy bag’ is more powerful in the US in restaurants (I think it’s a great idea actually. You pay for your food, you should have it all!), but in a function where you’re supposed to simply ‘nibble’, you can’t expect the remaining food to be distributed equally to the guests (and where I come from, it will probably be served the day after for a similar function anyway!) [lol]
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JpnDude
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A Taiwanese friend of mine in Canada would always leave some food on his plate by the end of his meal. He said that it would indicate that he was indeed full and had had enough to eat.

JpnDude
And that's my 2.1yen's worth

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Morrison's Lament
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That would be RMB [Big Grin]

But yeah, it's true, they keep putting more on your plate untill you burst if you try to clear it [Wink]

--- G.

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Interesting stuff folks.

In Ulster you will be asked if you are 'ok' throughout the meal, and when you stop eating (plate clear or otherwise) you will be offered more food if there is more to offer - it is polite to be honest and nothing more - say 'yes' if you want more and 'no' if you are satisfied - nothing is implied or inferred by remants of food or lack of, although it is considered polite to eat what you take if you have more.

As for burping, triumphant belches would be frowned upon but the soft, satisfied burp wouldn't raise any eyebrows at any Ulster table.

Just don't fart!

[Big Grin]

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Chris Kern
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A few notes about Japan:

1. The pouring thing is done here too. During a party it's considered impolite to pour your own drink, and you are supposed to make at least one "round" during the party, pouring drinks for the higher-ups.

2. Many restaurants do not allow you to take food home, ostensibly due to food poisoning fears (from the food spoiling).

3. Leaving food behind is not considered all that bad except for rice. For reasons that probably have to do with WW2, even leaving a few single grains of rice is considered wasteful and bad manners -- you are supposed to bring the bowl close to your mouth and use your chopsticks to scrape out every last grain.

But then there is behavior that's considered rude in the US that's OK here (bringing the bowl of soup or rice to your mouth, slurping the soup and noodles, drinking soup from the bowl, etc.)

-Chris

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Dazzy
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I learned about the slurping while eating Chinese noodles while I was in London last year. We went to Waggamamas, and the menu had a whole section about "The Way of the Noodle". I thought it was fabulous, since I usually end up slurping them anyways. [Big Grin]

I've never heard the burping after a meal one before, though, even though my family has been known to do it.

Daz 'yes, we're REALLY happy about the food' zy

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Chris Kern
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The reason for the slurping (in case anyone doesn't know) is that Japanese people generally begin eating soup and noodles *immediately*, without waiting (very long) for it to cool down. So sucking in a lot of air enables you to do that. It takes a while to learn how to do it right. I can do it with ramen and udon but not with soup.
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mairzydotes
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Is it also done in Korea? I had a Korean neighbor who told me about these a few years ago, but I forgot which "customs" they were exactly.

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Pft!

Slurping down soup, noodles, and other annoying 'stay-hot' foodstuffs is something I perfected as a child, where waiting for food to cool could mean a considerable calorific loss for the day (predatory siblings ya see..)

I must say, it's refreshing to pop into a Japanese eaterie and slurp away, free from the rolling eyes of the 'up their own arses' brigade! [Wink]

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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In Korea, at least back in 1986, belching was a no-no, but slurping was par for the course.

BUT NEVER STICK YOUR CHOPSTICKS INTO THE FOOD TO "HOLD THEM" WHILE YOU DO SOMETHING ELSE!! I was told that this was a direct slam against the cook - basically stabbing them in the heart with the sticks.

This may be VERY ULish, but when Nixon send the delegation to the middle east, there was a meal, and the ambassadors ate their fill, cleaning their plates as USAians do, then the foreign delegation refilled their plates, as they did normally in that country. It ended up with the USAians being horribly overstuffed, trying to clena their plates, and the foreigners refilling it, trying to be the "good hosts" and not leaving their charges "hungry". It may have been elsewhere other then the Middle East... it has been nearly 30 years...

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Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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smilodonna
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I had a Japanese cookbook that says not to stick chopsticks upright in food because it has something to do with rituals of the dead. I guess after cremation, special chopsticks were/are used to remove the bones of the deceased from the ashes and sticking chopsticks upright represents this. That's from what I think I remember, at least.
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Beware the Toe Tickler
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strange.

During my time in China I was briefed on as many customs as possible in order to make the best impressions on my new family. Nothing mentioned here was even discussed. Perhaps it varies by region?

Two things I did learn;

The younger generation (in my case, myself and my wife to her parents and aunts/uncles) are expected to serve at least one drink to their elders as a sign of respect.

If an elder refills your tea (as they may often do), a two-fingered tap of the table is a sign of respect and thanks that they've done so.

No burping involved.

However, cleaning your plate is generally a bad idea because Chinese meals are served in multiple courses and you're expected to sample each one. This caused me no amount of problems adjusting when a plate was given to me, I'd help myself from it, filling my own, then eating it all... only to be handed a second plate shortly after.

Chinese meals are definitely an exercise in pacing oneself.

As to chopsticks in the food signifying death... well, I do know that when you burn incense sticks at a temple to the Gods (as I did in Qingdao), you take a pair of them and hold them upright, then stick them upright in a ceremonial trough of fine sand where they can go out on their own. Perhaps this is what the cookbook was referring to?

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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This excerpt from an interesting article agrees with you Toe Tickler

quote:
• Do not suck on the tips of chopsticks.

• Do not point or gesticulate with chopsticks.

• Do not reach with chopsticks toward a platter in such a way that your chopsticks cross the path of another person's chopsticks. This is reminiscent of fighting with blades, and is considered barbaric.

• Do not hover your chopsticks over a serving platter. This implies you are sizing up the best portion for yourself, which is rude. On the other hand, Chan jokes, it is perfectly fine to inwardly size up the best portion before reaching out your chopsticks to pick a piece.

• Do not place chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice. This is reminiscent of offerings placed before the dead, thus, a morbid gesture in poor taste.

• When eating, do not put chopsticks into the mouth, rather, bite only the food as chopsticks hold it close to the lips.

• Do not place used chopsticks on a tabletop, because the tips are dirty. Either position chopsticks so their tips are raised on a chopstick rest, or have the tips rest on the rim of a low dish.

• To signal you are finished with a meal, do place your chopsticks fully on a plate or bowl, with no ends touching the table. Chan says it means the diner wants a server to take the plate and utensils away.



Source.

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This is where I come up with something right? Something really clever...

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Beware the Toe Tickler
Deck the Malls


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yep, that article is pretty much spot on. The only one that's fuzzy to me was "serving yourself from the main platter with your chopsticks". While it's true that if a large spoon is provided (and often is), you're expected to scoop your meal onto your own plate with it (and I was told to do so by my wife), I found just as often that we were taking food directly from the large plates to our own with our chopsticks... but under no circumstances, for those reasons, were you to actually put them in your mouth.
Posts: 240 | From: San Jose, Califor-nigh-yay | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Rhiandmoi
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Serving yourself means putting the food into your bowl. This is not the same as eating from the main platter. Which is a big no-no. Double dipping is gross around the world.

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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MysterySquirrel
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Ohh very interesting article, thanks Jay Tea! My Japanese teacher told us about not sticking the chopsticks into the food that way, saying it's because they give food to the dead and that's how they decorate the food...she also told us to never use one chopstick in each hand as it's reminiscent of picking out the bone pieces after cremation.

I love that class, we learn the best things there!

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