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  • Author Limon Rodriguez
  • Published March 2, 2019
  • Word count 1,044

The etiquette of dining in a foreign country goes beyond knowing when to use certain utensils or your hands, instead it encompasses the very tenants of the cuisine itself. Traveling allows you to look beyond the familiarities of your common kitchen to experience the habits of different cultures as well as bask in the distinct flavors of the local culinary heritage. The dining experience around the world celebrates the senses, from the texture of a dish to the aroma, not solely focusing on its visual aesthetic or taste but the combination of all five senses for an overwhelming sensation in every bite.

The cuisine of a destination informs visitors of the surrounding culture by highlighting historic flavors, customary cooking methods, personal values, and the etiquette associated with the kitchen and dining room. Food travels the globe with immigrants and emigrants, tourists and expatriates, as a form of cultural identity and preservation and becomes a symbol of pride. Food is also a means of connecting with home while adapting to the changing palate over time and takes into consideration the appetite of the local community. The following countries have practices that maintain different styles of etiquette associated with their cuisine which are inherent to the heritage and are connected to the importance of the culture.

  1. Italy

Italian dining culture is renowned around the world in connection with a revelatory outlook on life’s pleasures, including delicious hand-made pasta. While certain rules of Italian dining have become well-known over the years--such as never ordering a cappuccino after noon--the true art of Italian dining etiquette becomes apparent in the leisurely pace of service and the respect Italian chefs and customers give their food. The various kinds of pasta and array of sauces do not contain an over-indulgence of herbs and instead contain a minimal list of ingredients meant to accentuate the specific flavors of each item used.

Tortellini, for example, a handmade pasta resembling a naval and often stuffed with cheese or meat, is typically served in a small portion in a broth or with a sauce like pesto, marinara, garlic and sage, or creamy mushroom. The serving size is indicative of the respect diners pay to the cuisine who believe too many additional ingredients detract from the overall flavor. Instead of overindulging, they choose to appreciate the deceptively complex flavors in front of them which are crafted from simple ingredients. All of this and more goes into appreciating the craftsmanship of the handmade dumpling. Not only does a tortellini dish encompass the integrity of Italian cuisine, it acts as a symbol of the reemergence of the slow Italian meal that accentuates the joy of a good, lasting culinary experience.

  1. Japan

A variety of procedures around Japanese meals make them a ceremony of culture

Japan is a country known for its reliance on, and connection to etiquette that supports a civilized and courteous society that believes in good manners in order to demonstrate respect. The various components of Japanese dining etiquette rely on the different contexts of a meal. During formal occasions, Japanese sit on a reed mat in a kneeling position while they sit cross-legged during a casual dining experience. Contrary to western standards, they slurp their soup during the meal to show the chef appreciation of the noodles. While proper dining manners may help you avoid embarrassment or from offending someone during the meal, the culture dictates that customs of dining can also enhance the particular flavors of the meal.

As one of three national food traditions recognized by the UN for its cultural significance, Japanese cuisine stimulates pride in its preparation and joy in its consumption with each dish arranged and presented after a great deal of thought. Instead of thinking in terms of four seasons, Japanese cuisine can inhabit dozens of seasons in a single year all depending on the freshest ingredients at a given time to enhance various tastes. Throughout the year there is great variance on the plate such as bitter ingredients in March or sweet items in October.

Japanese cuisine often looks deceptively simple but side-sauces and additional flavors like wasabi or ginger add diversity when used in small quantities. It is important not to overpower the initial seasoning of the main dishes. However, the initial joys of Japanese cuisine stem from a simple act of gratitude before the meal. Saying itadakimasu before eating, which translates to "I gratefully receive," shows respect to those who have made and served the food. The attitude of appreciation establishes a comfortable and lasting environment allowing the host, servers, chefs, and guests to indulge in the pleasures of the experience.

  1. France

Eating is a crucial component of French culture and has resulted in a plethora of rules meant to respect dinner guests, hosts, restaurant chefs, servers, and customers. Many of the rules placed upon the dinner table date back to Louis the XIV but have since become common in French dining custom, whether out at a restaurant or while eating at home. These rules apply while indulging in one of the country’s over 400 official cheeses or sitting down for a large lunch as opposed to a heavy dinner. The main component to any French meal is time.

The average French citizen spends more than 45 minutes at lunch each day which is a reflection of the importance of savoring your food and finding the delicate flavors of each dish during a proper meal. The importance of different courses and taking the time to appreciate the array of options in a starter, main, dessert, and possible cheese plate highlights the importance of the culinary arts in French culture and its ability to bring people together. The portion sizes are often smaller which make it easier to finish each course. This allows the diner to enjoy every bite while appreciating the pleasure of accompaniment.

A slow meal in France symbolizes life’s pleasures with cuisine made to look beautiful, smell great, and taste divine. Whether in a private home or at a chic restaurant, beauty stems from elegance. For instance, the simple idea of a well-set table according to French culinary custom has the desired effect of slowing down a meal in order for family members, dinner guests, or restaurant patrons to better appreciate the meal.

At Zicasso, we excel at helping you get your vacation planned. Not just any vacation, but exceptional vacations filled with inspiring and life-enriching experiences.

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