I have just finished a nice dinner that it has been transformed to an intense discussion about manners on the table. It has been an italian-greek dinner and the diversities of the two cultures came up.
Let's see how it all started... bread... sauce. Ah, yes! In Greece, we use to take pieces of bread with our hands and put in our plate whenever we want to taste the sauce contained in it. Instead, my italian friend thinks this is sth that I should definitely avoid on the table. Bread cannot be used to "clean" the plate. Why? Because the table manners say so, and hence, by doing it, someone gives signs of low educational level, or he is just rude.
I find it really difficult to accept that there are such universal rules that regolate our behavior on the table. How is it possible to have a common protocol for a chinese, an arabian, an american and a french guy? Since the social behavior is a manifestation of the persons' culture, should it reflect their personal characteristics and diversities?
Then, the conversation took another turn, and the discussion was restricted to table manners that are accepted by the occidental world. In this case, which are the countries that influence the social behavior rules more than the others? Is it England, France, US, or...? Greece is an occidental country but with a lot of influences from the arabic ones.
I do not get it. Having rules seems natural to me. It is an element that differentiates humans from animals. Rules for me result from the education I got from my family, the school and my friends. The ones that really match my character, I adopt without a second thought. I follow them, without even think of them. This explains the title in the post: do I really have a choice? Am I really rude by doint it? And if follow these occidental rules, isn't it just a mannerism on my behalf since I haven't really absorbed such behavior?
Anyway, that's all for now. I'm really interested in knowing what other nationalities accept in the bread-sauce combination.
The funny thing is that the tonight's dinner was just pasta, no bread on the table and no sauce :-)