international dining etiquette
Dining etiquette for toasts. The most common toast is saude (to your health).
Dining etiquette for utensils. Brazilians do not switch knives and forks as they eat. The knife remains in the right hand, and the fork remains in the left. When the meal is finished, the knife and fork are laid parallel to each other horizontally across the center of the plate-make sure they do not cross each other.
Dining etiquette for the place setting. The fork and spoon above your plate are for dessert. Always start from the outside and work your way in, course by course. There will be separate glasses provided at your setting for water and white and red wine or beer (after-dinner drink glasses come out after dinner).
Dining etiquette for eating bread. Bread (usually French bread) is sometimes served without butter; in that case, there usually will not be a butter knife, nor will there be a bread dish: your bread is placed on the rim of your main plate or on the table by your plate.
Dining etiquette for your hands. 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 your wrists on top of the table (never your elbows). Never eat anything with your hands, including fruit, which is typically cut with a knife and fork when served at the end of the meal.
Dining etiquette for passing food. Pass all dishes to your left.
Dining etiquette for eating salad. Never cut the lettuce in a salad. Fold it with your knife and fork into a bundle that can be picked up with your fork. Salad, if served, is more typically served as a side dish to the main meal.
Dining etiquette for seating. The most honored position is at the head of the table. The host or hostess will then sit to the side of the most important guest, and if there is a hosting couple, they will often sit on either side of the guest (women to the right of the guest, and men to the left).
Dining etiquette for restaurants. In informal restaurants, you may be required to share a table. Waitstaff may be summoned by making eye contact.
Dining etiquette for discussing business. Take your cue from your Brazilian associates: if they bring up business, then it's okay to discuss it (more often than not, over coffee and brandy at the end of the meal), but wait to take your lead from their conversation.
Dining etiquette in the home. It is considered bad form to leave the dinner party, or the table, at any time. Allow more senior members of your party to enter rooms ahead of you.
Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who does the inviting pays the bill, although the guest is expected to make an effort to pay. Sometimes other circumstances determine who pays (such as rank).
Dining etiquette for tipping. A 10 percent tip is usually sufficient in restaurants.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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