Did you know that burping at dinner in India is a sign of appreciation? Or that slurping your soup in Japan is totally appropriate? Knowing the ins and outs of table manners in other countries is a pretty handy thing. In her new cookbook, Love is Eating, which focuses on simple, healthy Italian recipes, Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn shares some useful and informative rules of etiquette when it comes to an Italian table. “After all," she says, “it’s important to remember that when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
1. Don’t spread risotto on the sides of your dish in an attempt to cool it. This is considered playing with your food.
2. Don’t eat bread with your first course or use it to clean your plate (fare la scarpetta or “to make the shoe”). It’s considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate, showing you have dignity and don’t need charity.
3. Don’t use a fork to eat cheese, pate or mousse—only a knife will do. This is just etiquette. You place or spread these things on little bites of bread, which should be torn into bite-size pieces with your hands and never bitten off with your mouth or cut with a knife at the table.
4. Don’t cut your eggs or frittata with a knife. In Italy, a heavily Catholic country, many view the egg as a holy symbol—and religious tradition dictates that it not be divided with a knife.
5. Don’t drink coffee with your meal. Italians drink their espresso after the meal, which helps with digestion.
6. Don’t order cappuccino after your meal. Since it’s made with whole milk, it’s overkill to have it after a meal. Italians only drink cappuccino for breakfast.