international dining etiquette
United States (American)
Dining etiquette for discussing business. Americans conduct business over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Socializing may start the meal off, but the conversation will revolve around business.
Dining etiquette for paying the bill at a business meeting. In a business setting, the person extending the invitation pays for the meal.
Dining etiquette for utensils. The fork is held in the left hand, times facing down. The knife is held in the right hand. After cutting food, the knife is laid down and the fork is switched to the right hand to eat the cut food. Continental style (where the fork stays in the left hand to eat food) is also acceptable.
Dining etiquette for your napkin. Your napkin should be placed on your lap immediately after you are seated and kept on your lap during the meal.
Dining etiquette in a restaurant. Raise your hand or index finger and make eye contact to signal a server.
Dining etiquette for beginning to eat. Never begin eating until everyone is served and the host has started eating. Offer food and drink to others before serving yourself.
If offered a second helping of food, feel free to take what you like.
Invitation etiquette. When you are invited to an event, it is very important to respond either yes or no. Saying no is fine, but do not say you will attend and then not show up.
Dining etiquette for toasts. The guest of honor is toasted and should reciprocate by giving a toast of thanks. Informal toasts involve raising a glass and saying "Cheers." At more formal gatherings, glasses are raised in response to a speech, and a group response is elicited.
General dining etiquette guidelines. Americans tend to eat more quickly than people from other countries. Meals are typically served in courses. Except at a formal dinner, it is common to have two courses, either an appetizer or salad and main dish or a main dish and a dessert. Occasionally meals are served buffet style for medium to large gatherings.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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