Senegal Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette for eating with Muslims. Do not serve alcohol or pork if dining with Muslims. Meats should be prepared halal.

Dining etiquette for dining in groups. Men, women, and children dine separately. Men are usually offered the best food first, women next, and then children.

Dining etiquette for entering a Senagalese home. Remove your shoes before entering the home. When moving from one area to another, allow more senior members of your party to enter the room ahead of you.

Dining etiquette for seating. Make sure your toes and feet are not pointing toward food or other diners. You may be seated on the floor or on low stools. The most honored position is next to the host.

Dining etiquette for drinking. Tea is often served in three rounds. In the first round, the tea is not sweetened. In the second round, some sugar is added. In the third, very sweet tea is served. This is meant to mirror the development of friendship. Always accept the cup. At most meals it is improper dining etiquette to eat and drink at the same time: first eat, then drink. Never pour your own drink. Wait to be served.

Dining etiquette for using your hands. Wash your hands before and after eating. Eat with your right hand only. Keep your left hand off of bowls or serving items. The youngest person hold the lip of the communal bowl with the thumb and index finger of their left hand while the older diners eat first (men first, then women, children last). Eat from the part of the communal plate or bowl that is directly in front of you.

Dining etiquette for smoking. Do not smoke where food is being served. Wait to smoke until after the meal is over (women do not smoke).

Dining etiquette for after the meal. A small burp signifies satisfaction, after which some praise to the cook and thankfulness to Allah.

Dining etiquette for order of service. Honored guests are served first, next the oldest male, then the rest of the men, then women, and finally children.

Dining etiquette for beginning to eat. Do not begin to eat or drink until the oldest male has been served and has started.

Dining etiquette for restaurants. You may have to share a table. If so, do not force conversation: act as if you are seated at a private table. Women may be seated only with other women. Wait staff may be summoned by subtly raising your hand or by making eye contact; waving or calling their names is very impolite.

Dining etiquette for discussing business. Business is often discussed over meals, once individuals know each other well enough. Take your cue from your Senegalese associates.

Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who does the inviting pays the bill.

Dining etiquette for tipping. Tips in restaurants are about 10 percent.

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