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.
Begin the meal by saying "buen provecho".
Keep both hands visible at all
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
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
WHEN IN DOUBT, DO WHAT THE
NATIVES DO. WATCH AND IMITATE.
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