The Weirdest Food Rules From Around Europe

Your table manners may not be as good as you think they are when you bring them to a different country.


As full-grown human beings, we like to think we have a solid understanding of dining and drinking etiquette. But as it turns out, even though everyone everywhere eats, food rules are far from universal. For example, growing up, I was taught to leave my hands in my lap on top of my napkin when I wasn’t twirling (though never cutting) spaghetti. But in Greece and France, good manners dictate your hands be visible above the table—luckily, those rules about noodles do hold true in Italy.

No matter where you go, sharing a meal is the best way to connect with locals, and that is much easier without the distraction (and awkwardness) of unintended rudeness. Here are a few food rules from around Europe you may want to get familiar with before your next trip.

DON’T drink water with soup in Spain
While drinking water, in general, is perfectly acceptable in Spain, sipping agua with a couple of specific dishes is culturally taboo, especially among older generations and people from smaller communities. Tradition dictates that you skip water when eating octopus or soup because the combination will make your stomach hurt. If you’re really thirsty, don’t worry—wine and soft drinks are fine.

DO put your bread directly on the table in France
Unlike in many other countries, in France, bread is traditionally laid directly on the table (not a bread plate) and must be placed right side up. Bread placed face down is considered bad luck—bakers used to do this to mark a loaf reserved for the local executioner. It’s also important to note that when sharing a meal in France, no matter how ravenous you are, bread isn’t served as an appetizer—it should be eaten with your meal. Furthermore, you should break it into pieces with your hands, rather than bite right into it.

DON’T ask for extra cheese in Italy
At many Italian restaurants outside Italy, servers walk around offering freshly shredded cheese to add to your pasta or pizza, but in Italy it’s just not acceptable to smother your food with Parmesan. This is partly because a lot of dishes prepared with Parmesan stateside are actually made with pecorino cheese in Italy, and partly because asking for more cheese makes it seem like you’re trying to disguise the taste of the dish you ordered. Whatever you do, don’t commit the cardinal sin of requesting cheese on a seafood dish.

DO eat your food exactly as it’s prepared in Portugal and Spain
Looking for salt and pepper at the table? Forget about it. In Portugal and Spain, asking for salt and pepper to add to your food is an insult to the cook. In most restaurants (and in many homes) the two seasonings are not even brought to the table.

DO fold lettuce—DON’T cut it—in Germany and France
No matter how big the pieces of romaine in your German or French salad, remember this simple rule—fold and spear, never cut. To slice your lettuce may be considered a negative comment on the salad’s preparation.

DON’T waste bread in Russia
Around Europe, wasting bread is generally considered pretty bad form because in most countries, it’s a sacred component of every meal. But in Russia, it’s especially important to be judicious about how much bread you serve yourself, because the consequences could be dire: Tradition holds that when you die, all of the bread you’ve wasted over the years will be weighed and added to the balance that decides whether or not you get into heaven.

NEVER take the last bite of a shared dish in Denmark
Sharing a piece of cake with a friend? Social custom among Danes dictates that the parties divide the last bits of a shared dish equally among all parties until the dish in question is reduced to crumbs.

DO tilt soup away from you in the United Kingdom
In England and Scotland, the correct way to eat soup is to tilt the bowl and even the spoon away from you, then sip from the side of the spoon after it’s brought up to your mouth.

DON’T chew gum after dark in Turkey
Chewing gum isn’t as popular in Europe as it is in the United States and is even considered not-so-polite behavior. In Turkey, chewing gum after dark isn’t just rude—it’s taboo. According to local legend, after the sun goes down, gum turns into the flesh of the dead in your mouth. So if you’re looking to freshen your breath after a late dinner, you would be best advised to switch to mints.

ALWAYS pass the port to the left in the United Kingdom
It may seem a bit arbitrary, but in the United Kingdom, port is always passed to the left, after you’ve poured a drink for the person on your right. If someone forgets, the English tradition is to ask, “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” If the person hogging the bottle is in the know, he or she will take the hint, apologize, and pass it on (to the left, of course). If the person doesn’t get it, the next step is to say, “He’s a terribly good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port.”

Airplane etiquette: Flyers list their biggest pet peeves

CTV News

Try to keep your knees and feet to yourself. That’s the lesson from a new travel etiquette survey which found that seatback kickers are the most annoying type of in-flight passenger.

According to the latest edition of Expedia’s Airplane Etiquette Study, seat-kickers narrowly beat out inattentive parents this year, with 61 per cent of the 1,019 respondents polled in the U.S. agreeing that restless, seatback kickers make the worst type of seatmates.

Rounding out the top five complaints were clueless parents (59 per cent), seatmates with poor hygiene (50 per cent), the ‘audio insensitive’ who play their music or talk too loudly (50 per cent), and the tipsy, in-flight boozer (45 per cent).

Meanwhile, are you a ‘Chatty Cathy?’ Because in addition to being cited as one of the top 10 annoying in-flight behaviors, the survey found that most U.S. travellers (75 per cent) prefer to keep to themselves for most of the flight.

In fact, two-thirds of respondents agreed that they “dread” sitting next to chatty flyers — the 16 per cent who view flights as “an opportunity to meet and talk to new people.”

The survey also revealed current attitudes towards reclining seats –an ongoing flashpoint in travel — with interesting results.

About one-third of respondents said they’d like to see reclining seats banned entirely, or restricted to set times during short-haul flights.

The same percentage of travellers also said they refuse to recline.

The most common reason for adjusting seatbacks is to sleep.

And 13 per cent admitted they recline immediately after takeoff.

Overall, American flyers were globally optimistic, with three-quarters of respondents agreeing that passengers are, for the most part, considerate.

As for the Mile High Club, membership is exclusive, with just one per cent admitting to have engaged in sky-high nookie, or knowing a traveller who did.

Here are the top 10 grievances for in-flight behaviors:

The full ranked list of onboard etiquette violators includes:

Rear seat kickers 61 per cent
Inattentive parents 59 per cent
The ‘aromatic’ passenger 50 per cent
The audio insensitive 50 per cent
The boozer 45 per cent
Chatty Cathy 43 per cent
Carry-on baggage offenders 38 per cent
Queue jumper 35 per cent
Seat recliner 32 per cent
Greedy overhead bin taker 32 per cent

Labour Day Travel Tips for the Road

Vancouver, BC – The last long weekend before students head back to school is almost here! Labour Day weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for British Columbia highways. Sadly, an average of 4 people are killed this weekend every year on our roads, and several hundred people injured. ICBC says they typically see two thousand car crashes on Labour Day weekends. Your BBB has plenty of safety tips to keep in mind if you’re heading out for one final summer getaway.

“We at BBB do our best all year to protect the wallets of British Columbians and promote trust in the marketplace,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “We also like to do our part when it comes to keeping them safe on the road too!”

The BBB provides the following safety tips for traveling:

• Create a car safety kit. Basics for the kit include: a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, family medicine and emergency telephone numbers.
• Take the car in for a checkup. If your car is due for a checkup, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure and tread.
• Know the weather. Check local websites for traveling information for states you may be traveling through to allow extra time for bad weather.
• Check your gadgets. Charge your cell phone and make sure your GPS is running properly.
• Get some rest. Tired drivers are a hazard to themselves, those in their vehicle and often fatal or devastating mistakes can be made to other drivers on the road.

On The Road:

• Buckle up. Make sure everyone is properly buckled up and that young children are in age appropriate safety seats, and are properly secured.
• Remember the rules of the road. Don’t tailgate and remember the three-second rule when following vehicles. Don’t rely just on mirrors when changing lanes; turn around to check your blind spot. Obey all traffic signals.
• Watch your speed. Law enforcement will be out to ensure everyone is obeying all speed limits and laws.
• Don’t drink and drive.
• Don’t text and drive. When behind the wheel, pull over if you have to do anything that would take your full concentration off of driving.

Get The Most From Your Gas:

• Monitor your speed. Stay within posted speed limits – gas mileage decreases at speeds above 100 kms per hour.
• Don’t frequently start and stop. Improve your mileage up to 5% by avoiding quick starts and stops.
• Avoid unnecessary idling. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.
• Make the most of highway time. Use overdrive gears or cruise control when appropriate to improve highway fuel economy.
• Don’t carry extra weight. Remove items from your trunk; an extra 100 pounds can reduce fuel economy by up to 2%. Remove items on top of your car; wind resistance reduces fuel economy by 5%.

What are your travel plans?

(NC) It seems the Polar Vortex that resulted in below average temperatures last winter has left an indelible mark on many of us, with 36 per cent of Canadians saying that they are more likely to travel this winter. Are you heading out too?

Here are some interesting findings from a survey conducted by Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA), in which respondents were asked about travel habits and trends, and also about their plans for insurance protection. Continue reading What are your travel plans?