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Didn’t Your Mama Teach You …

Posted By Audrey Archives On May 28, 2013 @ 9:32 pm In Food & Travel,Health & Lifestyle | Comments Disabled

There are all sorts of rules we as kids in Asian families grew up with, like the proper etiquette in front of elders at the dinner table. Our parents would chastise us if we ate before elders or did not use both hands to serve food to them.

After my own parents’ careful instructions, I thought I had been well informed in common table decorum. However, after recently visiting an elder’s house, I learned something new. Though the custom of cutting fruit might seem trivial to us modern day young adults, it ‘s a practice that’s been carried on throughout generations and has significant meaning to the elders being served.

Much like the etiquette surrounding pouring, accepting and even drinking alcohol, cutting fruit in Korean tradition was a social practice that reinforced the underlying social hierarchy of Korean culture. Specifically, the custom of fruit cutting was one way to impart the traditional values of harmony, hospitality and respect.

I, for one, was excited to learn that there were specific methods to cutting fruit, depending on who you were sharing the fruit with. Take, for example, cutting an Asian pear (which are in season now through October).

  • If in the company of elders, one must first peel the skin of the pear, starting from the stem and circling it off until all the skin is completely removed. Then one may slice the pear into quarters.

  • If in the company of one’s peers, one can cut the pear into quarters first, then remove the skin from the cut fruit.

Besides fruit cutting,  there are plenty of other customs in Korean culture that show respect for others and elders, like the way you serve tea or greet one another.

Were there any social graces or table manners that you grew up with or learned recently? Comment below and let us know!


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