international dining etiquette
Dining etiquette for toasts. The most common toast is cheers, or to your health. Sometimes there is a toast at the end of a very formal meal to the queen, the king, or the royal family.
Dining etiquette for utensils. The English do not switch knives and forks. 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 across the right side of the plate. The fork is often held tines down, so that food is scooped up onto the backside of the fork; do this after much practice, or with foods that can stick to the back of the fork (like mashed potatoes and peas). Dining etiquette the place setting. The knife above the plate is used for butter; otherwise, always start from the outside and work your way in, course by course. Dining etiquette for hands. Hands are kept in your lap at the dinner 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 individuals of greatest importance seated first to the left and then the right of the head of the table; if there is a hosting couple, one will be at one end of the table, the other at the opposite end.
Dining etiquette for restaurants. Restaurants usually stop serving around 11 P.M., and dinner is usually served at 8 P.M., so there aren't too many seatings in the course of an evening. Be sure to make reservations. Pub hours were traditionally set by law at 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M., and 5 to 11 P.M., Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 3 P.M. and 7 to 10:30 P.M. on Sunday; however, these times are changing, and many pubs, as "private clubs," stay open much longer hours (you may be required to pay a small membership fee to join the club, which is sometimes not even stated, but merely included in your bill).
Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who issues the invitation pays the bill. Sometimes other circumstances determine the payer (such as rank).
Dining etiquette for tipping. Restaurant bills usually include gratuities of 10 to 15 percent.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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