It Matters: International Manners & Etiquette


It is not safe to assume that your way is the right when you are abroad.  The expression, “When in Rome…” sheds light on the general rule about manners when abroad.  Believe it or not in many countries including Tanzania, Brazil and Mexico showing up early for dinner is considered rude.  Ever wondered why some countries do not use a fork or knife?  Believe it or not once upon a time many Asian and African countries thought it rude to use weapons(a knife) while dining.  European use of the knife to eat was thought to be barbaric.   In efforts to improve table etiquette Europeans rounded the table knife edge and added a fork and spoon to the dining experience. Part Two of this series will include France, Switzerland, the Philippines, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.  MCCN spotlights International  Manners (Click Here to view article on International Manners) for Tanzania, India, Japan, Mexico and Brazil in part one.


In many African countries dinner is done without cutlery, with the right hand, from a communal dish or dishes.  Expect Muslims to say grace before dining.

  •  It is considered pretentious to use forks or knives to eat Chapati or Ugali.
  •  If eating on a mat or carpet, do not expose the sole of your foot, it is considered very rude.
  •  Children may eat with the adults if instructed to do so.
  • Many Tanzanian table manners are similar to British table manners.
  •  It is considered rude to talk or laugh with food in your mouth.
  •  Let the host know how good the meal is, but don’t exaggerate; it might be taken the wrong way.
  •  Avoid touching your face, nose, ears and hair while eating.
  •  It is rude to drink beer straight from the bottle; you are expected to pour it into a glass.
  • In some regions like Zanzibar, some dinner tables are gender-segregated.


Like many African countries, food is expected to be eaten with the right hand. It is fine to use the left hand to pass the dish.

  • It is acceptable, and many times, even expected, not to use cutlery for eating, as many foods – such as Indian breads and curry – are commonly eaten in this manner.
  •  Wash hands thoroughly before sitting at the table as some Indian foods are primarily eaten by hand. Also, wash hands after eating the food. Usually, a finger bowl (with luke warm water and lemon) is served to each person for rinsing fingers.
  •  In North India, when eating curry, the sauce must not be allowed to stain the fingers – only the fingertips are used.
  •  When flat breads such as chapati, roti, or naan are served with the meal, it is acceptable and expected to use pieces of them to gather food and sop-up sauces and curries.
  • In South India, it is acceptable to use the hand up to the second segment of the fingers (middle phalanx till the interphalangeal joint) and the first segment of the thumb (distal phalanx) to pick up food. In South Indian culture, the four fingers are used only to pick up or spoon the food. The thumb is the digit used to push the meal into the mouth. It is considered rude if all five digits are used to place food into the mouth.
  •  It is considered inappropriate to use your fingers to share food from someone else’s plate once you have started using your own. Instead, ask for a clean spoon to transfer the food from the common dish to your plate.
  •  It is not necessary to taste each and every dish prepared, but you must finish everything on your plate as it is considered respectful. For that reason, put only as much food on your plate as you can eat.
  •  As most of the Indian delicacies are eaten with the hands, it is necessary to make sure that one’s drinking glass should not become messy.

* Do not leave the table until others have finished or the host requests you. If you must, ask permission from the host before leavin



Click Here For How to Use Chopsticks

how to use chopsticks

Some Table Rules

* Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.
* It is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.
* Talking about toilet related and similarly unappetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by most people.
* Unlike in some other parts of East Asia, it is considered bad manner to burp.
* After eating, try to move all your dishes back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lids on dishes and putting your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or back into their paper slip.

Drinking rules

When drinking alcoholic beverages, it is customary to serve each other, rather than pouring your own beverage. Periodically check your friends’ cups and refill their drinks if their cups are getting empty. Likewise, if someone wants to serve you more alcohol, you should quickly empty your glass and hold it towards that person.



From an early age, children are taught to follow proper table manners. It’s a good idea to learn some of these manners before taking a trip to Brazil.

Read more: How to Follow Brazilian Table Manners |


Mexico is certainly a place where is a lot more regard for formality.  Here are some pointers:

If you are invited to a Mexican’s home:

  • Arrive 30 minutes late in most places (check with colleagues to see if you should arrive later than that).
  •  Arriving on time or early is considered inappropriate.
  •  At a large party you may introduce yourself.
  •  At a smaller gathering the host usually handles the introductions.

Learn More:


Profiles of the Iron Chef Hosts We Love

 Takeshi Kaga is most famous role would be that of “Chairman Kaga”, the eccentric and flamboyant host of Ryōri no Tetsujin, a cooking competition show (1993–1999). It became very popular, not only in Japan, but around the English-speaking world. Previously broadcast on the Food Network in the United States and on SBS in Australia, under the name Iron Chef, the show is now carried on the Fine Living network in the US as “Iron Chef Japan.” The host of Iron Chef America, Mark Dacascos, is claimed on ICA to be Takeshi’s nephew, though the stated relationship is actually between the fictional characters played by the two men.-(Wikepedia).  Takeshi Kaga is Japanase.

Mark Dacascos

Mark Dacascos, born in Hawaii and his mixed heritages includes Filipino, Japanese and Irish.   Dacascos, has been featured on Dancing With the Stars and a number of films. 

C-CAP Students Compete for Top Tuna Tartare Chef Honor

C-CAP Students: Photo Credit KCRW

CHAYA Restaurants has partnered with Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP) to help educate and train underserved high school students who want to pursue a career in the restaurant industry and is the first to launch C-CAP LA’s Adopt-a-School program.

Fifteen culinary students from Hollywood, West Adams and Westchester high schools will compete in a “Top Tuna Tartare Chef” competition at CHAYA Downtown as part of C-CAP’s Adopt-a-School Program.  CHAYA’s Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe and CHAYA Downtown’s Chef de Cuisine, Kazuya Matsuoka will judge the competition, along with Executive Director for C-CAP, Los Angeles, Mitzie Cutler.

Chaya Downtown Los Angeles

CHAYA has an unprecedented 390-year history of restaurants owned and operated by the same Tsunoda family both in Japan and California.  CHAYA began under an enormous shade tree in Hayama, Japan, centuries ago, where they offered tea, sweets and respite to weary horseback travelers.  Today, there are two locations in Japan (Hikage CHAYA and La Marée de CHAYA) and four locations in California (Beverly Hills, Venice, Downtown LA, and San Francisco). 

Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.   C-CAP provides training and curriculum enrichment programs including: teacher training; scholarships and cooking competitions; job shadows, job training, internships, and career advising; college advising and college 101; and product donations.  For more information about C-CAP, visit

And the winner is…results of competion:

The Fab Eatery Picks: Kimora Lee Simmons

Recently, Kimora Lee Simmons & Djimon Hounsou have graced the cover of Ebony magazine with their newborn baby.  With the mommy of three in the spotlight, MCCN thought it fitting to do what we do best by investigating must have foods of the fashion princess.  Among Kimora’s favorite eatery stomping grounds according to the Los Angeles Times, fresh-squeezed cherry lemonades at Hot Dog on a Stick by the Santa Monica Pier, Nanbankan in West L.A. for some traditional Japanese barbecue. Try the shiso chicken and the grilled okra.  MCCN did some digging about more of her food loves. We found an episode of Simmons show when the Fab One once made her friend Chris pull over at All American Burger.  She says, ” When there is a cheeseburger around, I just can’t help myself.”  When Simmons would have a taste for New York she would go to the City Bakery in the Brentwood Country Mart to feast on their sinful caramel French toast; however, that City Bakery is now closed.  MCCN may have to check out these places because the food sounds scrumptious.

Her Background:

She has been in the limelight for years but maybe you have been not quite sure about her ethnic background. reports that Fashion designer and the ex-wife of record producer, Russell Simmons was born to an African–American Father and a half Japanese and Korean Mother who was raised in Korea. There is some debate regarding her Mother’s ancestry. Some say she is half Korean while others say she is full Japanese.

*Photo credit:

Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno

Before he garnered more fame by Dancing With the Stars, Apolo Anton Ohno earned his recognition representing the U.SA.  as  winning Olympic Speed Skater in the Winter Olympic Games.  He is among the top Olympians of all-time. 

Photo Credit Wikepedia: 2006 Winter Olympics

Apolo Anton Ohno (born May 22, 1982) is an American short track speed skating competitor and a five-time medalist (two gold, one silver, two bronze) in the Winter Olympics.  Ohno has won five Olympic medals over his career and is one of only four Americans who has won three medals in a single Winter Olympics game.[3] He is tied with Eric Heiden for most career medals at the Winter Games by an American man.

His Heritage and Background:

Ohno was born in Federal Way, Washington, to a Caucasian-American mother, Jerrie Lee, and Japanese-born father, Yuki Ohno (大野 幸, Ōno Yuki?).Ohno’s parents divorced when he was an infant and he was raised by his father.   He has had little contact with his biological mother and as of 2002, has expressed no interest in knowing her or his older half-brother.   Ohno’s father, a high-fashion hair stylist and owner of the salon Yuki’s Diffusion, often worked 12-hour shifts, and with no family in the United States, found it hard to balance career and family.  His father chose to name his son Apolo after the Greek words “Ap” which means to “steer away from”, and “lo” which means “look out, here he comes”.  When Ohno was very young, his father meticulously researched childcare providers to care for his son during his long work hours.  As he grew older, his father became concerned his son would become a latchkey kid, so he got his son involved with competitive swimming and inline speed skating to fill his spare time.   Ohno’s days were spent with morning swimming practices, followed by schooling, and finally skating practices in the afternoon.  When he was 12, he won the Washington state championship in the breaststroke but preferred inline speed skating over swimming.  He has stated that by the time he turned 13 years old, he attended parties with older teenagers if he did not have competitions on the weekends.   His father has stated that it was a struggle balancing his son’s desire for independence while helping him reach his potential as a young athlete. – (Wikepedia)

Ohno talks about hopes for 2010 Olympics.  See interview:


Exquisite Sushi Dining at Hana Sushi

MCCN visits Westwood, CA’s popular restaurant Hana Sushi located on Wilshire Blvd, a place where you may see anyone from Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas to legendary crooner Johnny Mathis.  However, folks like Mathis are not just coming for the cuisine.  On Wednesday’s a pole dancing event is held.  Don’t worry, the clothes stay on but the provocative dance moves are on and poppin.  Needless to say, Wednesday is not what most would consider family night out at Hana Sushi.  The restaurant owner describes the pole dancing  as exercise and a fun activity but it is certainly a matter of opinion. 


 The executive chef is a culinary master of presentation and delectable cuisine.   

Food of the evening would include Spanish Mackerel,halibut sashimi,  tuna wasabi, sea urchin, Chilean sea bass, and other sushi/rolls.  The hot and tender Chilean sea bass was the winning dish of the night.  The Spanish Mackerel has a wonderful lime accents.   My dining companion and I enjoyed sake to compliment our meals.  The chef concluded our evening with an extraordinary banana dessert modeled after the sushi roll.   Hana Sushi has restaurants locations in New York, Arizona, and New Orléans. 

Review by Crystal A. Johnson- Restaurant Critic for the Los Angles Examiner and the Valley Scene Magazine

History of Sake (Nihonshu)

.                                           Sake or saké (pronounced /ˈsɑːkiː/ or /ˈsɑːkeɪ/ in English and [sake]  in Japanese) is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice.


This beverage is called sake in English, but in Japanese, sake (酒) or o-sake (お酒) refers to alcoholic drinks in general. The Japanese term for this specific beverage is Nihonshu (日本酒), meaning “Japanese sake”.

The History

The origins of sake are unclear; however, the earliest written reference to use of alcohol in Japan is recorded in the Book of Wei, of the Records of Three Kingdoms. This 3rd century Chinese text speaks of the Japanese drinking and dancing. Sake is also mentioned several times in the Kojiki, Japan’s first written history, compiled in 712. People used sake for spiritual functions because people who had it got a fever.

The first alcoholic drink in Japan may have been kuchikami no sake (“mouth-chewed sake”), which is made by chewing nuts or grains and spitting them into a pot. The enzymes from the saliva allow the starches to saccharify (convert to sugar), and then ferment. This method was also used by Native Americans (see cauim, chicha and pulque), and inscriptions from the 14th century BC mention Chinese millet wine (小米酒,xiǎo mǐ jǐu) being made the same way.Though there are various opinions in the start of sake, ancient sake was a basically sticky state of the paste as “neri sake” that remained in Izumo and Hakata now.

Regardless, by the Asuka period, true sake – made from rice, water, and kōji mold (麹, Aspergillus oryzae) – was the dominant alcohol. In the Heian period, sake began to be used for religious ceremony and people seldom drank it. Sake production was a government monopoly for a long time, but in the 10th century, temples and shrines began to brew sake, and they became the main centers of production for the next 500 years. The Tamon-in Diary, written by abbots of Tamon-in temple from 1478 to 1618, records many details of brewing in the temple. The diary shows that pasteurization and the process of adding ingredients to the main fermentation mash in three stages were established practices by this time. In the 16th century, technique of distillation was introduced into the Kyushu district from Ryukyu, and started brewing shochu called “Imo – sake,” sold at the central market in Kyoto. And, powerful daimyos imported various liquors and wine from Europe, China, and Korea.

See the brewing process and read more history at Wikepedia:

Do it Yourself: Fill Mason Jars with Goodies

Once upon a time people did a lot of things for themselves. Harry and David’s was not the end-all and be-all of fresh fruit preserves and corn salsa.People canned, preserved, and pickled all kinds of delicacies and used mason jars to keep them stored. Growing up, my grandmother made pickled watermelon, by using its rind – the kind of thing you do to make the most of your money. That pickled watermelon wasn’t half bad. Neither were thepeach and apple preserves lining the kitchen cabinets. Now before you go purchasing a butter churner, there’s no need to turn the hands of time back quite that far, but during the holiday season it can be fun and useful to break out those old mason jars and fill them with a few handmade and store-bought goodies. It may just save you some change and give you a little taste of the”Do it yourself” nostalgia of yesteryear.

Mason Jar #1

Here’s a quick little gift you and the kids can make. Go to the store and buy a load of candy. We’re talking jellybeans, lemon drops, Swedish Fish,Gummi Bears, Now & Laters, M&M’s. There is no wrong combination. Keep in mind these are to be given away, so make sure you get the type of candythe gift recipient likes. Fill the jar with three equal levels of candy. You can separate the levels by cutting out the center of a coffee filter or cut wax paper in rounds for a buffer. Voila! That was easy.

Maybe you don’t want to do three levels of candy, well you can always fill it up with one candy. Here’s a fun idea. If the gift recipient is a little adventurous, try candy from another country. Here are a few examples:

• Canada: Maple Syrup Candy is a hard candy made from pure maple syrup.

• Turkey: Turkish Delight or Lokum is made with starch and sugar and flavored with rosewater, mastic, or lemon and dusted with icing sugar

or copra.

• Japan: Botan Rice Candy is a soft and chewy lemon-orange flavored candy with an edible rice paper.

• Middle East: Halvah consists of honey and ground sesame seeds or nuts, sometimes with the addition of rose water and saffron.

• England: Toffee is a confection that is made by boiling molasses or sugar along with butter and in some instances flour is used in the recipe as well. It can be mixed with nuts or raisins. This one is a great one to try making at home. Click this link for a recipe for English Toffee

• South American/Asian/Caribbean: Tamarind Balls are a confectionary made from  the tamarind tropical seed pulp. The pulp is extremely tangy in taste. Tamarind pulp is shaped into balls then rolled in granulated sugar and white pepper (sometimes cayenne and black pepper are used as well). Click here to try this simple tamarind ball recipe.

Some of these candies can be found at international stores.

And sometimes you can find a promo code or two  for international treats.

Cultural Food Pyramid Series: Asian Food Pyramid