Immigrant Stories

Is there a story behind your dining etiquette?

Esther Ciganda
2 min readApr 9, 2022

Not only language but even your table manners are part of your heritage

At a Sagardotegi, a Cider House, in the Basque Country

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.

Wanna learn Basque? Go grab any of the resources that will help you get started today!

  1. Pronunciation Guide for English-speakers
  2. Quizlet Set of 100 Frequent Basque Words
  3. Mini-Basque Course.
  4. Coming soon…Join the waitlist for the New Basque Speaker Club [Euskaldun Berri Elkartea]!
  5. All courses:

Esther is a teacher, podcaster, digital product creator, and die-hard fan of the Washington State Cougars, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Lakers, & Osasuna. She splits her time between the beach city of Hendaye, France, and the farm in Moses Lake, WA. You’ll catch her using 4 languages daily & she’s also a proud tía (aunt).

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Esther Ciganda

If I can do it, so can you | Midlife, Multilingual + Multipassionate Teacher turned Edupreneur at 45 | Daughter of Basque Immigrants & Farmers, 🧠tumor survivor