Recently another sad story about dining etiquette across cultures has been in the news.* This time it involves cultural differences over how to use a spoon and fork, and involves a Filipino family living in Canada. Fortunately this child, Luc Cagadoc, was not removed from his family, but his mother, Maria-Theresa Gallardo, explains that the school’s reprimands for Luc eating in a typically Filipino way have negatively affected his self-esteem as well as his performance in school. She won her case before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal (the judge ordered the school district to pay the family $17,000 in damages), though the case is now in appeals.
Once again, a terrific Cultural Detective has filmed a video about how Filipinos eat with a fork and spoon in combination. This was evidently the behavior that led Luc’s school lunch monitor to conclude that he “ate like a pig and should learn to eat like other Canadians.”
Thank goodness Luc’s Blended Culture mother responded very constructively. She says, “We’ve been travelling around. I’ve been showing him different ways of eating, and saying there’s nothing wrong with what he’s doing.” Unfortunately, she says, her son can’t shake off the incident. “I think it’s going to last him a lifetime to remember what happened in that experience that he had.”
Have you ever gotten in trouble for “poor” dining etiquette that was due to cultural differences? Come on, share your story!
* Earlier we reported to you about an Indian family living in Norway, whose children were removed from the family home. One of the reasons cited was that the children ate with their hands. In response to that post, one of our authors made a terrific video about how to eat with one’s hands. Eating with one’s hands is, of course, the norm and custom in many cultures.