Cultural Differences in Dining Etiquette Again Get a Child in Trouble

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.

Eating with One’s Hands: Cause to Lose One’s Children?

Members of the Cultural Detective community are united in a common purpose: to spread respect, understanding and justice through collaboration in our world. I am so, so lucky to be able to work, each and every day, with such passionate and diversely talented people.

Yesterday was a wonderful day. We held the second in a successful series of two FOLEs (Facilitated Online Learning Events) with a globally dispersed group of movers and shakers; launched a MUCH-anticipated new package (CD Bridging Cultures); got out a blog post and a newsletter; and finished the admin area on our upcoming Cultural Detective Online subscription service. But, I was tired, and feeling rather overwhelmed by all the technology I (have to) work with. I was wondering, as many of us do sometimes, if my efforts were really having a positive impact on the world.

Just then I opened a note from one of my colleagues, a sign language interpreter who is a “foodie.” She reminded me that, yes, every little bit we put out there positively (including via technology) has constructive ripple effects in our world. Bless you and your beautiful work, Anna! Keep reading to see her note and a terrific effect of a recent social networking link.

Here’s the note I received:
Hello dear Dianne,

I am excited to share with you a post and video I made inspired by a story on your Intercultural Competence Newsfeed. Do you remember the piece about:

Norway authorities take away Indian couple’s children for feeding them by hand

My fascination with food and culture spurred me to write a post about different cultures who eat with their hands (including Indian, Ethiopian and Moroccan). And with the help of a friend, we shot a video of this lovely Moroccan gentleman I know giving me a lesson in eating with the hands.

I am hoping to make a series of such videos on cross-cultural food ways. Hopefully it can help build cross-cultural understanding and respect.

Thank you so much for all your wonderful work!

Anna Mindess
Co-author of Cultural Detective Deaf Culture
blog: East Bay Ethnic Eats

Below is the first video in her series, for those who don’t want to keep clicking. We’ve added it to our Cultural Detective YouTube channel as well.