You've probably heard hundreds of times that you must not put your elbows on the table while eating because: Oh my god, people will think you were raised in a barn!
Most of us have probably been chewed out at one time or another for having the imprudence of belching loudly at the dining table (punishment may have been even worse if this was done while in the presence of important guests).
On the other hand, if you were born in Canada, burping loudly, especially in an expensive restaurant, would be considered a compliment to the master chef's skills. Think of it as a shortened version of "Thank you, the food was excellent."
Here are some of the strangest customs in dining etiquette around the world:
Cut your potatoes with a fork - this is the accepted norm in Germany. According to Germans, who are world famous for their precision, the knife is actually too precise for cutting potatoes with, so grab your fork and have at it.
Bread crumbs and napkins on the floor - this is a scene that would make the hair of any self-respecting homemaker stand on edge. But not in Spain, where it's perfectly normal to throw the bread crumbs and napkins right on the floor when you're done eating. The waste is cleaned up at the end of the day.
Ask for ketchup in France and it's very likely your mug shot will get plastered in every single restaurant and fast food joint.
To ask for ketchup is an insult to the chef and means that you did not like the way the food was prepared. Historians have said that wars have been declared for even less significant things.
No matter how tasty you find your sweet-and-sour chicken, you shouldn't eat everything on your plate if you're in China. If you greedily finish up your plate, your host will think that the food wasn't enough and that you're still hungry.
Eating chicken and fish with your bare hands? - Yup, that's right! Even the most refined aristocrats wouldn't shame themselves with grabbing a chicken leg with their bare hands if there's utensils nearby. But if they serve you fish in Poland, you have to be especially careful not to turn it over because religious Poles believe that this will also flip the fisherman's boat out at sea.
And lastly - if you're ever at a restaurant in the Land of the Rising Sun be sure to slurp loudly - sake, noodles, soup - everything. This way your hosts will know that you really love the food and can't wait to taste it.