Esther Ciganda

Apr 9, 2022

Is there a story behind your dining etiquette?

Have you ever been told that you’re not using proper etiquette while eating?

I have. Many times.

But it was in college when it hit me that different cultures have different etiquette rules about how to use utensils when eating and where to put your hands. 

Growing up, my dad would get on my brother and I. He’d say, “saca esa mano” meaning take out that hand. At school, they taught us while eating with one hand the other hand needed to be put in your lap. Not at our home.

What a weird battle it was!  

Then at that etiquette dinner at my sorority, I finally said no to the trainers and explained why. My etiquette wasn’t wrong it was different. And I was going to use the etiquette I had been taught at home. It was the etiquette that belonged to my family and my culture.

From that day, I knew I would never change who I was to fit the norm.

I’ve always been stubborn, but this wasn’t about being stubborn. It was about maintaining my heritage and teaching others about it. I also wanted others to feel comfortable maintaining their cultural norms as well. 

Many immigrants change to fit into their new country. To blend in. But as a daughter of immigrants, I would never change who I am nor would I ask you to change. I’m proud of my roots and celebrate them.

Fight to maintain your heritage for yourself and for your family.

Next time you see someone who eats differently than you, find out why. They may have an interesting story to share with you.

Esther Ciganda

Multilingual + Multipassionate Veteran Teacher writing about my pivot to Edupreneur | Daughter of Basque Immigrants & Farmers | Podcaster | 🧠 tumor survivor