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As the title said, is it customary to leave food on a plate in Russia? I'm talking in the home, not at restaurants. The reason I was asking is if the host is poor or somewhere close and still invited you to their home and you finish the food on your plate, then the host may feel they did not have enough to feed you, so you should always leave food so the host thinks they fed you enough. I guess this could be anywhere in the world. If it is true then what about if they have money?

I know that leaving food on a plate could lead to thinking the food isn't good - what do you people think?

In a restaurant i'm going to eat everything I can -- I'm paying.

Another question: if you start drinking vodka with people in Russia, it's customary to finish the whole bottle (from the TV show Person of Interest) - is this true?

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    With Vodka - you have to finish all the bottles (probably more than one) :) – N Randhawa Apr 13 '18 at 22:30
  • The obvious answer to the food question is to do what everybody else does. – David Richerby Apr 14 '18 at 10:22
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I'm answering this as a Russian person.

As the title said, is it customary to leave food on a plate in Russia?

Yes, its generally fine. While some people would ask why you didn't finish your meal, a simple "I'm full" comment should be sufficient. Unless you're visiting a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad, your host shouldn't be particularly offended.

if you start drinking vodka with people in Russia, it's customary to finish the whole bottle (from the TV show Person of Interest) - is this true?

No, there's no such rule unless you're hanging out with gopniks. People routinely take a few shots from a bottle before putting it back into the freezer.

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    I think the question was whether finishing all the food can be offensive or otherwise problematic. – ugoren Apr 14 '18 at 9:35
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    Yes, the question is whether Russia is one of the places where you show your appreciation of your host's wonderful cooking by eating everything on your plate, or one of those places where you show your appreciation of your host's generosity and huge portions by leaving a little food on the plate. – David Richerby Apr 14 '18 at 10:20
  • "Is it customary" <> "Is it ok" – AndyT Apr 16 '18 at 8:44
  • @DavidRicherby there's no such fixed rule anymore, it all varies per family. Personally I wouldn't be concerned about such minute details when visiting someone and neither should OP. Of course things are a bit different in the Caucasus but OP didn't specify he's going there. – JonathanReez Apr 16 '18 at 14:57
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I don't think finishing everything on your plate would ever be deemed offensive in Russia. First time I hear about such a concept applied to Russian culture.

Leaving the food, on the other hand, is somewhat different. While it's not a general rule, some older people, especially those who survived harder times might see it as food being wasted. Just as often I witnessed people being upset that you haven't finished your portion because cooking might not be good enough for you. Honestly, if you encounter this mindset, it's hard to win unless you just eat A LOT. People would tend to try to convince you to taste everything available and eat as much as you can, and will get offended when you say "no please no more". It's kind of a stereotypical thing and while what I'm talking about might be a bit extreme, I've been in such situations more than once or twice.

The best strategy in shared platters environment is to take on the duty of taking your own food. Otherwise the host might think you're too shy and would keep giving you more until you're no longer able to stand up.

So, as a general rule, it's better to finish your portion than not. Look at others at your table and pick up the ques. Younger crowd is unlikely to care (but the most important is your host though).

As a foreigner, though, people will cut you some slack. Just praise the food and say "I wish I could eat more, I simply can't!"

With vodka - I think it's more of a lighthearted stereotype in that context. However, if you are in a company which has more than one bottle of vodka on a table (per <10 people, and maybe other alcohol), then it's better to feign some kind of disease, because it's likely they would make it their duty to make you dead drunk otherwise. I think it isn't really unique to Russia, among people using alcohol as their main entertainment fuel.

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    "I don't think finishing everything on your plate would ever be deemed offensive. First time I hear about such a concept" - If you first hear something it doesn't mean that this doesn't exist. In some cultures finishing the foold is offenisve. – Neusser Apr 16 '18 at 7:46
  • I'm Russian, the question is about Russia. I obviously am talking ABOUT RUSSIA. My answer is an opinion, based on my experience just as well as another answer. – sashkello Apr 16 '18 at 23:25
  • Edited for clarity. – sashkello Apr 16 '18 at 23:26

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