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Across Cultures

Dining Etiquette in Germany:  
• It is good etiquette to remain standing until shown where to sit.
• Table manners are continental – fork in left hand and knife in right.
• Do not begin eating until the host signals to do so.
• It is bad etiquette to rest elbows on the table.
• Try and cut food with the fork as it compliments the cook by showing it is tender.
• Everything should be eaten on the plate.
• Indicate you have finished by lying the fork and knife parallel across the right hand side of the plate.

Dining Etiquette in Japan: 

• An honoured guest sits at the centre of the table furthest from the door and begins eating first.
• Learn to use chopsticks – never point them, never pierce food with them, rest them on the chopstick rest when breaking for drink or chat.
• It is good etiquette to try a bit of everything.
• Conversation is subdued.

Dining Etiquette in Turkey:  

• Meals are a social affair. Conversations are animate and loud.
• The head of the family or honoured guest is served first.
• It is good etiquette to insist the most senior is served first instead of you.
• Asking for more food is a compliment.
• If taken to a restaurant, Turkish dining etiquette has strict rules that the one who extended the invitation must pay.

Dining Etiquette in the USA:  

• The fork is held in the right hand and is used for eating.
• To use the knife, the fork is switched to the left hand. To continue eating, the fork is switched back to the right hand.
• If you are more comfortable eating in the Continental manner it will not offend anyone.
• Foods or drinks can be refused without causing offence.
• Many foods are eaten by hand.

Dining Etiquette in the Middle East:

• Guests are honoured with prime choice of meats – head, eyes, etc.
• Eaten with right hand only.
• Meat is torn by holding down the piece against the dish and ripping off a desired amount with forefinger and thumb pressed together
• Rice is scooped up.
• Do not be afraid of making a mess.
• If you are finished leave food on your plate otherwise it will be filled immediately.
• It is proper etiquette to compliment the host on the food and his hospitality.


Some tips on eating out

Importance of table manners

Table manners play an important part in making a favourable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. Regardless of whether we are having lunch with a prospective employer or dinner with a business associate, our manners can speak volumes about us as professionals.

Napkin Use

The meal begins when the host unfolds his or her napkin. This is your signal to do the same. Place your napkin on your lap, completely unfolded if it is a small luncheon napkin or in half, lengthwise, if it is a large dinner napkin. Typically, you want to put your napkin on your lap soon after sitting down at the table (but follow your host's lead). The napkin remains on your lap throughout the entire meal and should be used to gently blot your mouth when needed. If you need to leave the table during the meal, place your napkin on your chair as a signal to your server that you will be returning. The host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the table. Once the meal is over, you too should place your napkin neatly on the table to the right of your dinner plate. (Do not refold your napkin, but don't wad it up, either.)


If, after looking over the menu, there are items you are uncertain about, ask your server any questions you may have. Answering your questions is part of the server's job. It is better to find out before you order that a dish is prepared with something you do not like or are allergic to than to spend the entire meal picking tentatively at your food.

An employer will generally suggest that your order be taken first; his or her order will be taken last. Sometimes, however, the server will decide how the ordering will proceed. Often, women's orders are taken before men's.

As a guest, you should not order one of the most expensive items on the menu or more than two courses unless your host indicates that it is all right. If the host says, "I'm going to try this delicious sounding cheesecake; why don't you try dessert too," or "The prime rib is the specialty here; I think you'd enjoy it," then it is all right to order that item if you would like.

"Reading" the Table Setting

Should you be attending a formal dinner or banquet with pre-set place settings, it is possible to gain clues about what may be served by "reading" the place setting. Start by drawing an imaginary line through the centre of the serving plate (the plate will be placed in the centre of your dining space). To the right of this imaginary line all of the following will be placed; glassware, cup and saucer, knives, and spoons, as well as seafood fork if the meal includes seafood. It is important to place the glassware or cup back in the same position after its use in order to maintain the visual presence of the table. To the left of this imaginary line all of the following will be placed; bread and butter plate (including small butter knife placed horizontally across the top of the plate), salad plate, napkin, and forks. Remembering the rule of "liquids on your right" and "solids on your left" will help in allowing you to quickly become familiar with the place setting.

Use of Silverware

Choosing the correct silverware from the variety in front of you is not as difficult as it may first appear. Starting with the knife, fork, or spoon that is farthest from your plate, work your way in, using one utensil for each course. The salad fork is on your outermost left, followed by your dinner fork. Your soupspoon is on your outermost right, followed by your beverage spoon, salad knife and dinner knife. Your dessertspoon and fork are above your plate or brought out with dessert. If you remember the rule to work from the outside in, you'll be fine.

There are two ways to use a knife and fork to cut and eat your food. They are the American style and the European or Continental style. Either style is considered appropriate. In the American style, one cuts the food by holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand with the fork tines piercing the food to secure it on the plate. Cut a few bite-size pieces of food, and then lay your knife across the top edge of your plate with the sharp edge of the blade facing in. Change your fork from your left to your right hand to eat, fork tines facing up. (If you are left-handed, keep your fork in your left hand, tines facing up.) The European or Continental style is the same as the American style in that you cut your meat by holding your knife in your right hand while securing your food with your fork in your left hand. The difference is your fork remains in your left hand, tines facing down, and the knife in your right hand. Simply eat the cut pieces of food by picking them up with your fork still in your left hand.

Related Links: Cutlery Drinkware Chopsticks

When You Have Finished

Do not push your plate away from you when you have finished eating. Leave your plate where it is in the place setting. The common way to show that you have finished your meal is to lay your fork and knife diagonally across your plate. Place your knife and fork side by side, with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork, tines down, to the left of the knife. The knife and fork should be placed as if they are pointing to the numbers 10 and 4 on a clock face. Make sure they are placed in such a way that they do not slide off the plate as it is being removed. Once you have used a piece of silverware, never place it back on the table. Do not leave a used spoon in a cup, either; place it on the saucer. You can leave a soupspoon in a soup plate. Any unused silverware is simply left on the table.


Some Basic Dining Manners

  • It is inappropriate to ask for a doggy bag when you are a guest. Save the doggy bag for informal dining situations.
  • It is best to order foods that can be eaten with a knife and fork. Finger foods can be messy and are best left for informal dining.
  • Do not order alcoholic beverages. Drinking too much when dining out is one of the most disliked behaviours.
  • Do not smoke while dining out.
  • Sit up straight at the table. It makes a good impression.
  • When you are not eating, keep your hands on your lap or resting on the table (with wrists on the edge of the table). Elbows on the table are acceptable only between courses, not while you are eating.
  • Do not season your food before you have tasted it.
  • Never chew with your mouth open or make loud noises when you eat. Although it is possible to talk with a small piece of food in your mouth, do not talk with your mouth full.
  • Do not slurp soup from a spoon. Spoon the soup away from you when you take it out of the bowl and sip it from the side of the spoon. If your soup is too hot to eat, let it sit until it cools; do not blow on it.
  • If food gets caught between your teeth and you can't remove it with your tongue, leave the table and go to a mirror where you can remove the food from your teeth in private.
  • Eat rolls or bread by tearing off small bite size pieces and buttering only the piece you are preparing to eat. When ready for another piece, repeat the same process.
  • Engage in table conversation that is pleasant but entirely free of controversial subjects.
  • You should not leave the table during the meal except in an emergency. If you must go to the bathroom or if you suddenly become sick, simply excuse yourself. Later you can apologize to the host by saying that you didn't feel well.
  • If you need something that you cannot reach easily, politely ask the person closest to the item you need to pass it to you. For example, "After you have used them yourself, would you please pass me the salt and pepper?"
  • If a piece of your silverware falls onto the floor, pick it up if you can reach it and let the server know you need a clean one. If you cannot reach it, tell the server you dropped a piece of your silverware and ask for a clean one.
  • If you or someone you are dining with is left-handed, it is best for the left-handed person to sit at the left end of the table or at the head of the table. This arrangement helps ensure that everyone has adequate elbowroom to eat comfortably.
  • If food spills off your plate, you may pick it up with a piece of your silverware and place it on the edge of your plate.
  • Never spit a piece of bad food or tough gristle into your napkin. Remove the food from your mouth using the same utensil it went in with. Place the piece of food on the edge of your plate. If possible, cover it with some other food from your plate.




This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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