3 etiquette tips I just learned

Full disclosure: I am not an etiquette expert. I just stumbled upon these three interesting etiquette tips and thought they were worth sharing.



Making an Introduction:

When introducing someone, you should always say their name first and their relationship to you second.  That way, you spotlight the person–not their connection to you.

Wrong: “This is my husband, Jay.”
Right: “This is Jay, my husband.”

Wine Etiquette:

While taking a sip, you should politely look into your glass. (And not at another person, if you’re in the middle of a conversation.)

Dinner Etiquette:

When you are finished with your meal, your knife and fork should be placed on your plate diagonally from upper left to lower right (11 to 5 if you imagine your plate as a clock face). This is a secret code to the waiter (or host) that you’re finished.



International food rules even Bourdain abides by


Did anyone see the new Bourdain episode this week?  The one where he meets up with Zamir in Russia and they throw back shot after shot of vodka together?  Bourdain, who has no reservations (pun intended) about drinking may not just be obliging drinking buddy Zamir.  Turns out, it’s very bad etiquette to turn down (or mix) vodka in Russia.  Want to know other fascinating etiquette tips that will save you from awkward situations and potentially help you make friends?  Check out these 15 international travel etiquette tips from CNN, published by Budget Travel.

1.  In Thailand, don’t put food in your mouth with a fork.

2.  In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.

3.  In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don’t eat with your left hand.

4.  At a traditional feast in Georgia, it’s rude to sip your wine.

5.  In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and knife.

6.  In Italy, only drink a cappuccino before noon.

7.  In Britain, always pass the port to the left — and remember the Bishop of Norwich.

8.  In France, don’t eat your bread as an appetizer before the meal.

9.  In China, don’t flip the fish.

10.  In Italy, don’t ask for parmesan for your pizza — or any other time it’s not explicitly offered.

11.  Don’t eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile.

12.  In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands.

13.  Never mix — or turn down — vodka in Russia.

14.  When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end.

15.  In Brazil, play your tokens wisely.

Read the full article here, for the insightful back story on each of these rules.



You’ve been ordering (and eating) sushi all wrong

Photo by Greg Williams via flickr

My sister brought this topic to my attention.  She recently mentioned to me that she wanted to learn how to order sushi “like I just returned from a business trip to Tokyo.”  I thought that was interesting and given that I eat sushi on a very regular basis, I wondered if she was on to something.  I did some research and discovered that everything I thought I knew about sushi was wrong.

Here are 8 tips I pulled directly from a recent Thrillist article by Dan Gentile:

1. Sit at the bar
90% of a sushi chef’s work happens before the restaurant even opens. For a chef, the prep is the practice, and the service is the performance. It’s best to get a front-row seat rather than slumming it in the nosebleeds. You’ll get a stronger appreciation of the care that goes into your food, and no one has more knowledge of the menu and freshness of the fish than the chef. Also, a few friendly questions and a genuine interest will likely earn you free food.

2. Trust your server
It is their job to make sure you have a good experience, so don’t make it hard for them. If you’re feeling brave, then order “omakase” style (“I’ll leave it to you”) and let the chef make the decisions. But whether you’re ordering a la carte or letting the chef pick, offer your server suggestions of what you like in terms of texture and intensity. If you’re not into creamy, rich fish, you probably won’t want to end up with a mouthful of urchin genitals.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Odds are your server didn’t know anything about sushi when they started working in the industry, so don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t have a nuanced understanding of the difference between blue and yellowfin tuna, or don’t have three semesters worth of Japanese language classes under your kimono.

4. Don’t order everything at once
Rattling off a super-complex order of sashimi and nigiri might make you think you look like a pro, but it isn’t how pros actually do it. Order a few things at once, and your honest reactions will help guide your server to make sure you’re getting flavors that match your palate.

5. Don’t ask for soy sauce and wasabi if they’re not served
Most sushi chefs aren’t too into the idea of you giving their carefully made creations a bath in a pool of soy sauce. It overwhelms the flavors, and chances are the chef already gave it a delicate brush of soy. Wasabi and ginger are used as palate cleansers, not entrees.

6. Avoid flashy rolls
Rolls with lots of different kinds of fish or rainbow sauces are generally frowned upon by experts because it’s hard for the individual flavors to shine. The chef we talked to recommends basic tekka maki (tuna roll), umeshiso maki (a roll with plum paste and shiso leaves), or a California roll with real crab.

7. Seek out the specialties
Ask what the restaurant is known for, or if there are dishes that are particularly indicative of the restaurant’s style. It will be viewed as a sign of respect and also allow the chef to put his best foot forward.

8. When in a traditional sushi bar, sashimi should be ordered before sushi
This comes from Morimoto camp, so you know it’s ironclad. Work your way up to rolls: they’re considered the main course. And while it seems like you might want to start with a bowl of miso, traditional chefs would serve this last.

Now that you’ve figured out to how order sushi, you need to learn how to eat it.  Yup, you’ve been doing that wrong too.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  Here’s an incredibly brilliant infographic from the Huffington Post to help you understand the dos and don’ts of eating sushi.

Image pulled from the Huffington Post.  Original infographic via Visual News via Daily Infographic.

Now grab some friends, head to your favorite sushi restaurant and show off your new sushi knowledge and skills!