None of us like it when someone is late. We often frown upon such behavior and we see it as rude to be kept waiting. This is not the case in India. In fact, in this country, being late, even for a dinner party, is acceptable. How many people do you know who would fit right in the culture of this country?
Sharing our food with those around us is standard, especially if we're familiar with them. We'll ask for a bite of this or a fork of that but we're not going to put our hand in someone else's food, as that would be considered rude. In Ethiopia, not only is it not considered rude, but there is an actual term for touching people's food and feeding others with your hands — gursha. It seems that for Ethiopians, this is a way of connecting more with the people they are dining with. So the annoying couple feeding each other sandwiches while also kissing in high school were practicing gursha?
As Americans, we've been taught that slurping is extremely rude. I know I find myself wanting to slap anyone who's slurping in my ears. It seems, however, that slurping in Japan is important. The louder the sound, the better, as it suggests that the food is so good, you're eating it quickly, and you can't even control the sounds you're making.
When we are at the dinner table, slurping is not the only thing that we frown upon. Keeping our mouth very close to our plates is considered rude and not proper behavior at the table. This is not the case for other countries, however. Laotian and Vietnamese people, for instance, tend to keep their mouths close to their plate even if they are eating with a fork.
Besides experts insisting on the importance of eating slowly in general, we also find it rude when someone is gobbling down food near us. Eating too fast leads to unnecessary sounds. Moreover, we're not showing our host that we are savoring and appreciating the food that has been served to us. Same as with the former slide, this is not the case for Laotian and Vietnamese people. It seems that eating too fast is acceptable and it's not considered rude at all.
We would never dare to fart at the dinner table. It's rude and people will think it's disgusting especially with food around. This is even truer if we are guests in someone's house. Let's face it, most of us would die of shame if we accidentally farted in front of a group of people. But in Canada, things are different. In some Inuit cultures of this country, farting after a meal is a sign of appreciation for the food you have been served.
We find it rude and invasive when someone asks us very personal questions such as how much money we make or why we don't have children yet. We get defensive even if the person asking the questions is someone we know fairly well but it's especially rude when the person is a stranger. But in Israel, it is common for a person to ask you very personal questions, such as your financial situation, your religious belief, questions about children and other such queries.
Spitting in America is rude and people take great offense in getting your saliva on their body. We even have a phrase for such rudeness: "Say it, don't spray it!" This is not the case in central Africa, however. Members of the Maasai tribe spit at each other as normally as we would shake hands.
No matter how good you know the burp is going to be, it is unacceptable to burp at the dinner table in our country. People will frown (and suppress a laugh) then frown again. But burping in China is the best form of flattery. You're telling the chef the meal was amazing.
Tipping is part of our culture here and it's considered rude when we refuse to tip someone especially if they gave us good service. We've all had our share of servers raising an eyebrow at us when they deem the tip we gave them isn't enough. But this is not the case for Japanese servers. In fact, in Japanese restaurants, it's considered rude to tip waiters as they believe impeccable service comes without the added incentive of a tip.
Leaving food on your plate as a kid is asking to be bombarded by adults telling you that you won't grow tall or strong or this or that. Even as adults, we tend to be asked if everything was OK, if they see that we have left food on our plate. In certain Asian countries, however, leaving food on your plate is a good sign. It means your host did a good job of filling you up and if you don't want any more food, then it's best to leave some food on your plate.
We've all had those waiters in diners or cashiers at the local supermarket looking like we just killed their dog. They look at us without crack opening their mouth to show a hint of a smile. We interpret a lack of a smile as being rude and unhelpful but in Russia, things are different. In this country, smiling to strangers is not done because it means you are showing familiarity and intimacy with someone you don't know.
I still have to meet one parent who hasn't told their kid, "Stop playing with your food." It seems like mashing things up and mixing whatever is on the plate is often frowned upon by adults who want to see their kids finish whatever is on their plate. If you haven't grown out of the playing-with-your-food phase, then you should consider moving to Germany. It seems that mashing your baked potato is considered to be a good sign in this country, rather than cutting it up neatly in half. Being "too rigid" with your food is considered weird there.
When we receive a gift, it's expected of us to open it right there and then and to show appreciation. In Asian countries though, even China and India, opening a present in front of the giver is not done. This is because you don't want to make other guests feel bad if the gift-giver out-gifted someone else. But then, why else would we buy our host a gift when they invite us to dinner?