Living in a multiracial country allow us to learn different cultures from our fellow Malaysians. Same goes to table etiquette too! We are different - some of us dine with fork and spoon, some with chopsticks, and some with hands. While you are out with a group of multiracial friends, have you ever asked yourself how much do you understand their table etiquette? These are the common ones we should be practicing in Malaysia.
1) Use communal utensils
Communal utensils (chopsticks and spoons) are used to bring food from communal dishes to your own plate. It is rude and unhygienic for a diner to use his or her own chopsticks/ spoon to pick up food from communal plates and bowls when such utensils are present.
2) Do not play with your utensils
Do not treat your fork and spoon like drum stick and keep hitting the plates or glass on your dining table. It is also a misbehaviour to standing your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of food, evoking images of ‘joss’ sticks used ceremoniously at funerals.
3) Eat with your right hand
Especially when you are dining with your Muslims friends, using left hand is considered offensive, unless there is some hardship in using the right hand.
4) Only scoop enough rice for your consumption
Every grain of rice is deemed as scared, therefore it is advisable to scoop enough rice for your consumption to avoid wastage and refill upon finishing the earlier portion.
5) Do not chew and talk at the same time
Yeah, we know you are excited to share your stories with your friends while dining. But talk and chew at the same time is deemed as impolite. Also, always remember to chew with your mouth closed.
6) Do not put bones/ shells on the dining table
We could see this pretty common at hawker stalls. Bones, shells and inedible residue should be placed on a special platter provided, otherwise you should put it at one side of your plate. It is not hygiene or rather impolite to put on the dining table together.
7) Do not burp with your mouth open
Some people may not realise that this is quite disturbing towards other guests. When a burp is coming on, cover the mouth with a napkin, quietly burp, and say, "Excuse me."
8) Place the utensils properly when you are done
Especially for Western or fine dining, at the end of every course, please place your utensils parallel to each other in the 4 o’clock direction to let servers know that you are done with the meal. If there is only one spoon of fork, always place it face down.
9) Stop slurping your soup
You are not in Japan where you need to show how you enjoy slurping your noodles. Slurping food is a sign of bad table manner. You should be drinking your soup with little to no noise. An elegant approach is to scoop your soup in an outward motion, away from your body.
10) Wash your hands before you eat
I believe many have forgotten that this is the most basic etiquette. Hashing hands, both before sitting at a table and after eating, is important. You should be seated at the dining table with clean hands to enjoy the scrumptious food.