Polite or not polite...who is right?

Are you polite?  Are you impolite?

People here in Taiwan think quite differently about eating food together than they do back home.  They see it as really rude and not polite if you don't eat what your offered, regardless if you like it or not.  

There have been a lot of occasions so far when people think I am not polite just because I won't eat certain things I know I don't like.  I find this behaviour very odd.  For example I really don't eat a lot of sea food.  I like cod, tuna, a bit of salmon now and then other than that not much else.  In Taiwan they eat loads of seafood, especially prawns, shrimps and clams.  I hate prawns and shrimps in England so why would that change when I came to Taiwan, it does not.  It is still the same I don't like what I don't like and I cannot just decide to eat it because people will think I am not polite.  

If you kept trying to force people in England to eat food when they have told you so many times they don't want any or don't like it, then that would be seen as not polite.  People would also get very angry that you kept asking, and insisting that they should eat it, or try it.

A few months ago I went out with work to a beautiful place in the mountains for a meal with work.  I had a stinking hang over, and the place we went to had no menu, I was hoping they would have something I like.  They didn't have anything, actually it was mainly loads of raw fish.  As I have already told everyone I don't eat most fish to begin with because I don't like it.  So the fact this was not even cooked fish, and I had a stinking hangover made it all worse.  It was also boiling hot, and the air con didn't seem to be helping me one bit.  As we progressed through the meal, there was not one dish I could eat.  They did however keep insisting I should try it, even though I know I don't like it because I have tried it before.

I didn't think this would of been a great problem but when I went to work the next day I got politely informed that I was rude for not eating anything.  I really don't know how me not eating anything effects any one else's enjoyment of their food but that's really how it is here!

My girlfriend keeps telling me if I don't like anything I should tell them I am allergic to it, and this would make everything so much easier.  I think though why should I lie about something so trivial that really effects no one else but myself?  If I go out for a staff meal together and don't like the food I am gonna be the one losing out because I leave hungry not them!

Anyway, the point of this post is who is right?  Who is wrong? 

Back home it is not polite to force people to eat what they don't like, or make them feel like shit that they don't want to eat the food.  

Here in Taiwan it is the opposite, people see it as not polite if you don't eat anything because you don't like it.  They think your being rude by not trying some, and being too fussy about the food.  Also they think your not grateful!

Discuss...let me know your opinions!


  1. I think you are right because you have told them that you don't like the seafood!

    I am Benson

  2. We all have different taste buds. Some like spicy, some do not. I do agree with what you're saying. It's not like you said, "I love seafood! Oh, but I don't want the seafood at the place you take me."

    I'm actually allergic to prawns. :D

  3. I'm an American-born Taiwanese.

    They probably feel that it is rude because they are trying to provide for you and they don't understand the harm in just eating it, even if you don't like it. I'm not saying you are wrong in refusing to eat it though because you seem to strongly dislike it. I'm just trying to make you understand why they might feel this way.

    That is the ultimate difference between Western and Eastern culture. Western culture emphasizes the individual and each person having their own opinions. Eastern culture emphasizes the community and everyone does what benefits the community, even if it hurts themselves. There is good and bad to both ideologies.

    I'm not really sure how you can avoid this situation in the future though. For me, I always force myself to eat it but that's because I was brought up this way. Maybe you can explain that in Western culture it is different so you didn't realize that you were being rude?

  4. Some countries in Europe love seafood but is true in Uk is one the countries when seafood is not popular.
    In Uk is very popular ready food and rubbish food.
    Is better fresh food. Vegetables and fruits for British is like they see a monster.
    Maybe for that there are lot the fat people

  5. Living in a country where seafood is major part of a diet, mixed with eastern culture, this is a problem you are going to have to overcome everyday. Personally I envy the food choice you have out there, fresh seafood in the UK is cheap if you go to a market, but to eat out it can be super expensive.

    I would say either do as Jen says and claim you have bad allergies to seafood, or start every few meals to try a bit more, there was plently of seafood I couldn't stomach as a kid (mainly because of the texture), but now i can't get enough. Things like Fresh king prawns are NOM NOM NOM nothing like the frozen crap you have probably experienced in the past and been put off by.

  6. just to let all you guys know, I grew a pair and tried raw fish. I don't think I liked so much but it was not one I was expecting. Anyway maybe I can try little by little now that as I have a fore mentioned I grew a pair.


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