Is it Rude to Ask for Cheese in Italy?

While dining in a foreign country there are numerous rules, spoken and unspoken, that it pays to be aware of if you don’t wish to accidentally offend someone.

One such rule relates to asking for cheese (and other extra ingredients) while eating in Italy. But, is it rude? Find out below!

Is it Rude to Ask for Cheese in Italy?

Asking for cheese in Italy is not exactly rude, however, it can indeed at times be considered extremely offensive to the cook.

The main time it is seen as rude to ask for cheese in Italy is when you are served a seafood dish. 

That said, it is just as likely to be seen as rude if you ask for any additional ingredients or embellishments that aren’t offered to you with your food.

That’s why, in Italy, if at all possible, you should simply accept the food that is served to you as is. 

The exception to this rule is if it is not actually what you ordered.

How Rude Is it?

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On a scale of 1 to 10, asking for cheese in Italy rates 7 on the rude meter

The reason asking for cheese is such a big deal in Italy is that chefs go out of their way to prepare dishes precisely as they should be, traditionally. 

Asking for cheese, or another ingredient for that matter, that is not already present in the dish is seen as rude and uncalled for. 

If you ask for cheese (especially with a fish dish), the chef is likely to have their feelings hurt and the host or party you are dining with will be embarrassed or otherwise upset.

Why is it Rude?

Asking for cheese in Italy is not rude in itself; asking for cheese with a seafood dish such as fish or shrimp is what is rude. 

Asking for cheese with a seafood dish that has been prepared by a professional chef, or by a host, at home, is considered rude because the cook has labored to create a specific flavor… and it by no means is meant to have cheese with it. 

Common Questions

What is considered rude while eating in Italy?

There are several things that are considered rude in Italy while eating: never put your hands in your lap, do not stretch your arms, don’t leave the table until everyone is finished, and don’t put your elbows on the table. Further, you shouldn’t drink anything other than water or wine with your meal.

What are the main food rules in Italy?

There are a few food rules that you should know while visiting and eating in Italy: bread does not get eaten with pasta, cheese is not eaten with seafood, and pasta is always the first dish (not a side dish, and not the main dish, rather the first dish you eat).

Do you ask for the check, in Italy?

In Italy, you need to specifically ask for the check (or bill) when you are finished eating. It is considered rude for the wait staff to rush their guests, so they will not bring you the bill automatically. The main exceptions to this rule are heavily tourist-oriented restaurants.