Burping and slurping at the dinner table, how disgusting? In our culture such behaviors aren’t acceptable along with eating with our hands or even eating food off the floor after we have dropped it. Much to my surprise, after doing some research, all of those unacceptable behaviors that we have grown up to avoid at the dinner table are accepted by other cultures around the world. Everyone is different, especially our cultures. I mainly discovered that what we find acceptable in our culture as good mealtime behaviors is disrespectful in other cultures.
Also, what we find rude other cultures find acceptable at the dining table. In Muslim cultures, instead of using utensils they use their right hand to eat food. The reasoning behind them using their right hand is that they generally use their left hand for hygiene purposes. Muslims consider their left hand “unclean” when it comes to eating. In America, we begin teaching our children how to use utensils as early as 12 months old.
Yes, we do have foods in American that are made to be eaten with our hands, but for those foods that aren’t “finger foods,” we are to use good manners and use our utensils.
Also in Muslim cultures, if someone drops bread on the floor all they have to do is pick it up, kiss the bread, and raise it to his or her forehead before putting the bread back on their plate. Muslims consider this action a sign of respect for their food and the hard work that went into making it.
Dropping food on the floor is an automatic trip to the trashcan with the food that fell. We, Americans, know the dirt and germs that cover floors, so when food touches the ground we do not put it back on our plates, but simply make a trip to the trashcan.
In Asian countries, eating all the food on your plate is a sign of disrespect host. The host thinks that they didn’t feed you enough. Napier-Fitzpatrick says, “They’ll keep refilling it, and if they run out, they’ll be upset that they didn’t have enough food for you. ” In order to avoid showing disrespect to your host, Asians usually leave a small portion of food on his or her plate to show that he or she is full and that they appreciate the host’s generosity.
In American, a lot of parents try to encourage their children to eat everything on their plate, although it is okay if a child doesn’t. As adults in America, when we eat everything on our plate, it is a sign of respect to the host, saying that we enjoyed the food given to us. Also, you may not refill your own glass. If you are thirsty and want to drink, you must refill another person’s glass at the table and how they show the generosity to you. Speaking of seconds, in Chile taking a second helping is offensive to the host and you must wait to be offered more food. Refills and second helpings in America is simply just a sign of a person still being hungry or thirsty.
There is no disrespect in Americans wanting seconds or any type of process in receiving seconds. Ethiopians have a tradition called gursha, hand-feeding each other. They say this tradition shows hospitality to build trust and social bonds between one another between those who are sharing their food. Not only do Americans make sure we use our utensils while eating, but if we were to feed another person at our table, we would be sure to use a utensil to do so. Our thoughts on feeding ourselves or even one another with our hands is simple, it’s unsanitary.
In Japan and China, slurping your noodles shows the host your appreciation for the meal they have served you. The host takes slurping as a compliment. Also in China and Taiwan, a small burp at the end of a meal shows the host that you have eaten well and they take that as a compliment. In America, if someone made noises at the table with their food, they would be asked to stop because it shows bad manners at the table. Burping at the table is also found to be disrespectful because once again it shows bad manners. Meal timing in America is also very different to other countries.
Midday is when other countries have their main meal for the day. Americans have their main meal after their workday. We call our evening meal “dinner,” this word signifies a midday meal in other countries. Our main meal is usually served around 6pm, while in other countries such as Spain they eat their supper around 10pm. Also, Americans have a meal that we call “brunch,” a meal between breakfast and lunch, a foreign visitor would think of this meal timing baffling.
There are several differences between our culture and other cultures around the world on what we consider good and bad table manners. Seems as though what we find as good manners aren’t good in other countries and vice versa with bad manners. Although we may not find certain behaviors “good manners,” doesn’t mean we can’t learn and teach these behaviors to our classrooms. It is very important for teachers to teach these different cultural meal time behaviors because it’s very important for children to know about other cultures other than their own, and also because we don’t want children to be considered disrespectful if they ever encounter such cultures.
The best way for children to learn these different cultures is to talk about them and even practice them. I would make a lesson plan all about good table manners and bad table manners. Teaching our children about other cultures is very important, but we also need to be sure they know our good and bad table manners first. There are several ways to approach on how to incorporate other cultures. During my circle time, I would start by doing only one culture per day.
The things to discuss during our circle time would be to state the culture we are discussing, ask the children what they know about that culture, ask the children what they want to know about that culture (for further discussions on other days), and then tell the children about the culture, while giving them time to respond on what their thoughts were. Just telling children about culture isn’t enough; they need to experience it themselves. During meal times, breakfast, snack, and lunch, I would allow my classroom to partake in the new cultural behaviors that they learned about.
It is also important to let the children reflect on what they have learned about hearing about the culture and physically being able to experience the culture. It is very important for children to experience the different cultures of children that are in the same classroom as them. The best way to do that is to allow the child of a different culture to tell his friends about himself and culture. This way the children get a firsthand experience. Including the child’s parents and allowing them to come into the classroom and interact with the children while teaching about their culture is a great way to include families into the classroom.
When teaching children about different cultures, teachers need to be sure that we include all children of all different cultures, along with their families, and to make sure we do it in a respectable manner. Works Cited “Dining Customs of Different Cultures. ” Familyeducation. com. 5 Oct. 2014 http://life. familyeducation. com/cross-cultural-relations/behavior/48976. html “Dining Manners Around the World. ” Parents. com. 5 Oct. 2014