Swedish Language Blog

Eating without making noises Posted by on Sep 22, 2010 in Culture

In Sweden when we eat we try to be as silent as possible. Being quite and not making slurping sounds is a sign of politness so it is seen as slightly if not very disgusting if you slurp or burp. The food is also slightly adapted to this custom since there are no distaster messes to deal with if you suck your spagetti silently. In Japan however, (since I’m there I’m making comparisons between the Japanese and the Swedish ways a lot) if you want to eat the right way for certain foods you should make sounds, and believe me if you don’t slurp (and suck in air) when you eat then there will guaranteed be a mess.
When people have finished eating in Sweden they put their fork and knife at four o’clock (though believe me there is some discussions about how the fork and knife should be placed).
Question: In your country, are there any certain unwritten rules regarding eating? And are sounds for example a positive or negative things?
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  1. FreyaCD:

    I can’t think of any customs offhand but my 1/2 Swedish children act like it is the end of the world and relationships if they have to hear you chew, slurp or chomp while eating. Must be in the genes! Soft white food is the preferred – no noise.

  2. CK:

    not really anything as extreme as that, but I know that licking your fingers after you eat is very frowned upon, and considered disgusting.

  3. gabriel:

    Where I come from, the US, it is good to be as rude as possible.

    First, we only use a fork. Get the knife out of there.

    Then we prefer elbows on the table, blowing our noses in napkins and eating with our mouth open in front of the TV. I mean, hey, we did invent the TV dinner for Christ’s sake.

    As far as table discussion, anything goes politics, sex and everything else inappropriate.

  4. Kim:

    In Italy _traditionally_ (not very popular among teenager who are
    everyday more ignorant) no noise is appreciated and when finished
    knife and fork are placed to form an “X” on the dish.

    Traditionally fork are placed in this way http://goo.gl/vJ2h
    cutlery marked 10 are for are fruit/cake/etc. The knife should
    have the sharp edge directed to the inside of the dish in order
    to avoid potential accidental injuries.

    Sorry for my English…

  5. Katy:

    I find it very rude and off-putting if I hear a noisy eater, but some consider a burp at the end of a meal, a sign of good food! Not that I often do this, but depending on your meal, it can happen, especially if you are having a carbonated beverage.

  6. Rastik:

    Here (Czech) you use fork and knife to display if you are still eaten or have finished with the food. 4 o’clock for knife and 8 o’clock for fork (split) means you’re still eating and leaving fork and knife together means you’ve finished. Is it common elsewhere too?

  7. Luke (Sydney):

    In Taiwan, a pair of chopsticks is used. There is no way for sure of telling whether one has finished or not as dishes are all shared. However without rules enforcing it, I found people will put the chopsticks on the table for a ‘break’ and leave it on top of the rice bowl if it’s done. No sticking chopsticks in the rice at all time, unless it’s an offering to the dead!

    Taiwan has been ruled by Japanese for 50 years and it’s quite noisy on the table, but the enfulence is fading—which might be a good thing 😉