international dining etiquette
Dining etiquette for making a toast. The most common toast is salud (to your health).
Dining etiquette for beginning to eat. Start eating only after the host says, "Bon appetite!"
Dining etiquette for using utensils. Knives and forks are used the European way (the knife remains in the right hand, and the fork remains in the left throughout the meal). When the meal is finished, the knife and fork are laid parallel to each other across the right side of the plate. If you put both utensils down on the plate for any real length of time, it is a sign to the waitstaff that you are finished, and your plate may be taken away from you.
When not holding utensils, your hands are expected to be visible above the table: this means you do not keep them in your lap; instead, rest the wrists on top of the table.
Dining etiquette for passing food. At the table, pass all dishes to your left.
Dining etiquette for seating. The most honored position is at the head of the table, with the most important guest seated immediately to the right of the host (women to the right of the host, and men to the right of the hostess). If there is a hosting couple, one will be at each end of the table. Men and women are seated next to one another, and couples are often broken up and seated next to people they may not have previously known. Men typically rise when women enter the room, and continue to hold doors for women and allow them to enter a room first.
Dining etiquette for eating in a restaurant. In informal restaurants, you may be required to share a table. Waitstaff may be summoned by making eye contact; waving or calling their names is very impolite.
Dining etiquette for discussing business. Take your cue from your Haitian associates: if they bring up business, then it's okay to discuss it.
Dining etiquette for eating in the home. It is considered bad form to leave the table during the meal. If it is a formal meal, be sure to allow more senior members of your party to enter ahead of you: men should move aside to allow women to enter ahead of them.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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