Is it offensive to the chef/host to finish all food on your plate in Italy?

  • I was once told by someone that in Italy it is offensive to the chef if you finish your plate of food clean. That you should leave a small portion. I'm not finding anything about this online. Is there any truth to this and how serious is this offense? Is it perhaps just an old rule of etiquette that is not followed anymore?

    Update: Wow! I didn't think this question would be so interesting for people. Yesterday I was in Florence, Italy and I asked a chef a nice restaurant directly this question. He spoke good English and confirmed what @Hatef stated including mentioning the part about La Scarpetta. Its possible that this is different in different parts of Italy. I'll ask in Rome too. It is rather interesting that various countries around the world are split on this tradition. One could make an interesting world map.

    In old Chinese culture, the host always wants to offer more than enough food for the guests in order to show one's hospitality, so if you finish every bit on the dish then the host may feel bad (thinking that he/she might not have offered enough food for you) but will not be offended.

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    I cannot write an answer to a protected question and as an Italian I agree with those who say "no". However, you might be interested about *where this story comes from:* many years ago it was considered to be "good etiquette" or a sign of "I am not starving since weeks" and this old and outdated tradition is still discussed on websites and stuff like that. Nowadays however it's different and we usually finish the food.

  • hatef

    hatef Correct answer

    4 years ago

    I would say it's the other way around. Italian chefs don't like to see leftovers on the plate as it could signal that you didn't like the food. Once, in a local bar in which I have lunch every day, I left with an unfinished plate on the table, and I was interrogated the next day to make sure nothing was wrong with the food.

    However, there is another activity in Italy called: Fare La Scarpetta, which means, after finishing your food, you clean the plate from the sauce with a piece of bread (like this).

    As written in this article:

    Italy could be divided into two groups: those who do the scarpetta, and those (few) who don’t.

    Doing Scarpetta is considered an informal activity and you rarely find people do it in the restaurants (especially in the northern parts of Italy).

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    My family comes from the southern half of Italy, and we do the Scarpetta during meals where bread is offered.

    This scarpetta thing also exists in France and Belgium, where it's called "Saucer", in French. It's as informal here as you state it is in Italy, although I myself don't hesitate to do it in a restaurant as client is always right ;-)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM