Showing respect at the dining table is an important part of culture in many countries and etiquette can vary widely from country to country. A simple hand gesture in the wrong direction, taking a seat before your host, or placing your dining utensils at a certain angle can lead to offence. Before dining out or dining in someone’s home when in a country you are visiting, you should brush up on the etiquette and expectations of that country’s dining customs.
For example, in parts of the Middle East and Asia, a traditional meal would always be served on a rug placed on the floor, or alternatively on low tables. An example would be in India where meals are traditionally served on the floor and the family and any guests that they might have, sit around in a circle formation. They would also eat their meals with their hands, but only ever with their right hand when placing food into their mouths.
This would contrast heavily with many European countries. Take Italy for example, where polite dining etiquette requires the guest to follow the lead of the host and to stay standing until he or she is invited to take a seat. This would always be at a table and would never be on the floor. Knives and forks would always be used and eating with their hands would be considered impolite. For more information about the many varieties of dining habits worldwide, view this infographic created by Killarney Hotels.