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.

By CHRIS CIOLLI

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.”

Thousands of pilots have suicidal thoughts each day, study says, with industry under a ‘veil of secrecy’

BY HENRY BODKIN, THE TELEGRAPH

Gendarmes and rescuers from the Gendarmerie High-Mountain Rescue Group working at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 near Le Vernet, French Alps, 2015

More than 4,000 commercial flights on any given day are being flown by pilots who have experienced suicidal thoughts, a landmark study of the airline industry suggests.

An international survey of pilots by Harvard University found that 4.1 per cent had contemplated killing themselves at least once in the previous fortnight, and 12.6 per cent met the criteria for depression.

Pilots diagnosed with acute depression are automatically deemed unfit to fly, but experts have warned that many cover up their symptoms for fear of losing their careers.

The study was conducted in the wake of the 2015 Germanwings tragedy, when a pilot suspected of being mentally ill deliberately crashed his airliner into the French Alps, killing 150 people.

Its authors said there is a “veil of secrecy” surrounding mental health problems in the cockpit. Last night, however, the British psychiatrist behind the study said screening for depression would be pointless as diagnosis would rely on pilots being honest.

“We found that many pilots currently flying are managing depressive symptoms, and it may be that they are not seeking treatment due to the fear of negative career impacts,” said Professor Joseph Allen, who led the research.

Depression, which affects people’s ability to concentrate and process information, can present as a feeling of failure or listlessness and loss of interest in the task at hand. The new study, which is published in the journal Environmental Health, is significant because most existing data on depression is held by airlines and aviation authorities but is largely kept private.

Almost 3,500 pilots responded to the anonymous survey, although of these more than 1,100 refused to answer questions relating to mental health.

A greater proportion of male than female pilots reported they had experiences “nearly every day” of loss of interest, feeling like a failure and thinking they would be better off dead. However, female pilots were more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.

The study also found a link between depression and higher usage of sleep aid medication.

Rob Hunter, head of flight safety at the British Airline Pilots’ Association, has called for pilots to be routinely insured against being forced to give up flying due to poor mental health, a recommendation that came out of the Germanwings investigation.

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?”

Now, suitcase that you can ride to catch your flight

Washington: There’s a new suitcase in the market called Olaf, which features a foot-powered scooter board that enables people to ride it.

Slovenian frequent flier and creator of the bags, Bostjan Zagar told the CNN, that he got the idea came from the fact that when people had to catch their next connection flight in three minutes and the gate was on the other side, they needed something to move at a faster pace than walking, the CNN reported.

After three years of testing, Zagar, who thinks himself to be a “hardcore engineering guy,” has raised investment in his concept through the Kickstarter funding platform Olaf, which is ready to hit the markets, and comes in three models: Business, Urban and a flexible version that can carry a variety of bags.

All three bags feature wheel based suitcase-style collapsible handles that can double up as a hand trolleys, and are fitted with brakes. (ANI)