Why Are Dining Etiquette Rules So Illogical? Game Theory Tuesdays

Presh Talwalkar at mindyourdecisions.com

Everyone at my wedding reception table is getting served steak and chicken and they are waiting patiently until I get my vegetarian dish. It is proper manners, after all, that no one eats until everyone has their food.

Source: Why Are Dining Etiquette Rules So Illogical? Game Theory Tuesdays

Presh goes on to point out that dining etiquette is a costly signal to show that you are well educated. An interesting twist to this interpretation is that dining rules are culturally determined, as I’ve recently experienced.

For example, over lunch the Danes tend not to wait until everyone has their food. They usually start immediately, at least in the canteen. My suspicion is that this is due to the fact that most Danes bring their own lunch, as the Dutch do. Therefore, there is usually no need to wait. This in contrast to (Southern) Germany where lunch is typically a warm meal so the same rules as with dinner apply, and everyone waits.

Another interesting difference is that Danes tend to eat their lunch sandwiches with knife and fork rather than with their hands as the Dutch do. From a hygiene and a prolong your lunch point of view there is certainly something to be said for that custom, but if you’re not used to it, at times it does seem  bit strange.

This puts up an interesting but touchy subject: migration and integration. Personally, I still don’t eat my sandwiches with knife and fork, and in Southern Germany I continued to bring my own packed lunch, as I do today in Denmark, but at least I know of the rules. If dining rules really are a costly signal, in how far are they costly signals of being well integrated?

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