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Table Manners

            Just as introduction etiquette is important for making a good impression, good table manners are important for maintaining a good impression.  In the U.S., we use a system of  utensils that is unique in the world, so you'll have to learn a new system when you leave the country.  Start practicing now, so that you'll be adept by the time you arrive in a Spanish-speaking country.

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Some general guidelines:

  • Begin the meal by saying "buen provecho".

  • Keep both hands visible at all times.

  • Don't eat with your hands.

  • Don't eat anything whole (except for small items such as olives or almonds).

  • When passing someone an item such as the salt shaker, set it on the table in front of the person, not in their hands.

  • Don't put your elbows on the table; rest your forearms on the table edge.

  • Eat slowly, and linger for "sobremesa", the leisurely conversation that follows the meal.  Eating slowly is hard for U.S. people; pace your eating to that of the others at the table.

  • To show you're full, leave a little bit of uneaten food on the plate.

  • If you try something and don't like it, don't say anything.  Just leave it on the plate.  The hosts will get the message.  If there's something that you like, praise it.  Again, the hosts will get the message and serve it to you again in the future.

  • When you leave the table, say "con permiso".



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