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13 Dining-Related Taboos from Around the World

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Visit different countries, and you're bound to experience cultural differences—especially at the dinner table. Here are some things to help you mind your manners, wherever you're traveling next.

China

1. Chinese tradition believes that long noodles symbolize a long life, so if you're lucky enough to eat a big steaming bowl of long noodles, don't cut them—it symbolizes cutting a long life short.

2. While eating at the table, you should never point your chopsticks at another person.

3. Flipping a cooked fish which is on your plate is a serious no-no. If you do, you're inviting bad luck into your life. The tradition stems from Chinese fisherman rituals. While eating, the fisherman would not turn over the fish because they feared it would cause their boats to capsize on their next trip. Instead, you should pull the flesh from beneath the fish.

Japan

4. While eating at the dinner table in Japan, chopsticks should never be used to pass food between two people. Chopsticks are used to pass bones at funerals after cremation, and by replicating this same gesture at the dinner table, you are both dishonoring a funeral tradition and creating bad luck.

5. Chopsticks have another function for funeral traditions in Japan. In the home, families stick chopsticks vertically into bowls of rice as an offering to the dead. The vertical chopsticks also symbolize incense burned to sacrifice this dead. While this gesture is acceptable in a person’s home, you are never supposed to place chopsticks vertically in a bowl of food at a restaurant since the gesture is believed to put a curse on the restaurant owner. These beliefs are also the same in Chinese and Korean culture.

United Kingdom

6. As a sign of proper manners in the UK, you should always tilt a bowl of soup away from you while you are eating from it. Manners also dictate that you should spoon the soup away from you toward the opposite side of the bowl while you're eating. This is also proper etiquette in the United States.

Korea

7. As a sign of respect in Korea, you should never begin eating at the dinner table until the eldest or most senior person has begun eating.

United States

8. It's illegal to eat watermelon in public parks within Beech Grove, Indiana. The law was created because an abundance of disposed watermelon rinds punctured the trash bags and caused a mess.

9. In Gainesvilla, Georgia, it's illegal to eat fried chicken with anything but your bare hands. In 2009, one resident was arrested as a prank for committing the crime—i.e., eating her fried chicken with a fork—on her 91st birthday. Luckily, it was all a joke played on her by a friend, and the charges were dismissed.

Italy

10. While dining in Italy, you should never ask for extra cheese unless it is offered to you. It’s seen as a challenge of the chef’s cooking abilities.

Tanzania

11. While you might think that it is polite to show up just a few minutes early for a dinner party in America, it is actually rude to show up early for dinner in Tanzania. Guests should always arrive 15 or 20 minutes late for a meal to be polite.

Russia

12. If you finish a bottle of vodka, the empty bottle should always be placed on the ground. Russians believe that placing an empty bottle back on the table causes bad luck.

13. Food should never, ever be licked off of a knife or any other eating utensil. The act is considered rude and a sign of poor manners. Some would even consider you a savage, as it can also be interpreted as a sign of cruelty to lick a utensil that cut through your food.

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science
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.

1. SHE WAS BORN TO, AND FOR, GREATNESS.

A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.

2. HER PARENTS' MARRIAGE WAS A MODEL FOR HER OWN.

Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

3. SHE AND HER HUSBAND WERE AN UNSTOPPABLE PAIR.

Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

4. THEY FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE.

The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.

5. SHE WAS NOT CONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO.

Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.

6. SHE WORKED HERSELF TO DEATH.

Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like Delivery.com or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with Delivery.com or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]

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