Behavior and Etiquette – Food and Dining: Dining Etiquette

Dining Etiquette

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There are many differences between Afghan and Western dining etiquette.  One should always remove shoes at the door when visiting a home. When dining at someone's home, guests will be seated on the floor, usually on cushions.  Guests should wait for the host to show them where to sit. Food is served on plastic or vinyl tablecloths spread on the floor.  If possible, one should sit cross-legged.  Otherwise, sit as comfortably as possible.  Sitting with legs outstretched or with the feet facing people is considered rude.  When guests are present in Afghan homes, males eat separately and typically prior to females and children.

Eating with wrong hand

Food is generally served communally with everyone sharing from the same dish.  Since food is often eaten directly with the hands, cleanliness is extremely important.  A bowl or basin is often provided for hand washing, just prior to meals. The left hand should be used as little as possible and is NOT to be used in a communal bowl.  Food is taken with the right hand, but both hands can be used to eat once food is taken from the communal bowl.  Food should be taken only from the portion of the communal plate directly in front of you. Food is usually scooped up into a ball at the tip of the fingers, and then eaten. Guests unfamiliar with customs and etiquette should always watch, learn and follow the lead of the host or others familiar with the culture. 

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