international dining etiquette
Dining etiquette for toasts. When beer is enjoyed, you can be sure that a toast will follow. Allow your Irish host to initiate the first toast, upon which you may propose one in return.
The most common toast is slainte! meaning cheers!, or to your health!
Dining etiquette for utensils. 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 its back side.
Dining etiquette for the place setting. The knife above the plate is used for butter. Always start from the outside and work your way in, course by course.
Dining etiquette for eating potatoes. Bread is usually not served at the dinner party, and the little plate next to the big plate is the place to put the peelings from your boiled potatoes. The proper technique involves holding the potato down with your fork in one hand, and peel the skin with your knife in the other.
Dining etiquette for your hands. Hands are expected to be in one's lap when not holding utensils at the dinner table (this is the reverse of the custom on the Continent, which is to keep hands above the table).
Dining etiquette for passing food. Pass all dishes to your left.
Dining etiquette for seating. The most honored position is at the head of the table, with the most important guests 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 each end of the table.
Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who does the inviting pays the bill. Sometimes other circumstances determine the payee (such as rank).
Dining etiquette for tipping. Restaurants usually include a service charge in the bill, so you will not be expected to leave an additional tip. When one has not beer, included, leave a tip of 10 to 15 percent.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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