When I sit at the table with Dutch people, I sometimes feel like a waiter. “Can I have the lettuce?” Well, here you have it. “Can I have the salt?”, Okay please. “Can I have the potatoes?”, Sigh, why is everything on my side of the table ?! The Dutch are not too lazy to take it for themselves, but find it rude if you reach someone. In Syria, we think differently: you do not have to put your fellow guests to work, but take your food yourself. We don’t have table manners in Syria anyway. Not because we are indecent, but because we are always on the ground. So it would be better to call it ‘ground manners’. There is not even a table in most houses. We are so used to sitting on the floor that many old people find it harder to sit on a chair than on the floor. We all eat the food from one large plate. When I stayed in refugee shelter De Koepel, Dutch people came to eat with me for the first time. I had prepared a joint plate and some separate dishes. Nobody at the joint board, only me. At that time I did not know that the Dutch would be afraid to eat together from one plate. In any case, there is little washing up, because we only use a spoon. We do not need a knife and a fork, because there is never a piece of meat on the table. The meat is processed in dishes. After starting the meal, the owner of the house can’t stop eating until everyone has finished it. Otherwise, guests might think that they should not be too greedy and stop eating too. It is therefore important, as head of the family, to eat slowly. In the Netherlands you have to pay attention to something else. Choose a table corner with as few items as possible that have to be indicated. You can eat nice and quiet. “

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