|According to an article in June’s Conde Nast Traveler, in some countries it’s our table manners giving us away now. That and our hand gestures, which could actually get us into some serious trouble if we’re not careful.
Let’s start by debunking some myths about Italian dining. First, despite how you’ve learned to do it (or how proficient you are at it), don’t go twirling your pasta using a big spoon. It’s not proper. Next, don’t season anything before tasting it. Your respect as a discerning diner will fly right out the window. Parmesan? A privilege, not a right. According to the article’s expert, “If they think that something should be eaten with cheese, they’ll offer it.” Here’s good news, though. Sopping up the remaining sauce with your bread is considered a great compliment to the chef. And although there is no love lost between the Italians and the Greeks, they do share “sopping” standards.
What about those hand gestures? In Italy you’ll want to avoid making circles with two hands it means, “I’ll kick your ass.” And an okay signal might signify you are gay (also the case in Turkey). In Greece, a raised palm pushed forward signifies, “Go to hell,” not “Hello” or “I’ll take five of those.”
A very tricky place for social interaction seems to be Turkey. For instance, you might not want to point the sole of your foot toward someone - it will signify you disagree with them. Crossing your legs in the presence of someone of higher status than you is considered rude. And you will want to be careful not to place your thumb between your first two fingers - that is their version of our “middle finger.”
And here’s the kicker. Even if you follow the advice in the title of this piece, when you are speaking to someone in Turkey, you should never put your hands on your hips or in your pockets - it is considered disrespectful or taken as a sign that you are angry.
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