international dining etiquette
MexicoDining etiquette for drinking tequila. To drink tequila properly, you will be served a small plate of salt and a wedge of fresh lime. First, take a pinch of salt with your right hand and put it in the hollow formed in your left hand when you hold your left-hand thumb and crooked index finger together horizontally. Raise your left hand to your lips and lick the salt out of the hollow with one swipe of your tongue. Drink the entire shot of tequila at once. Immediately bite into the lime wedge and suck on the juice. (The lime actually sweetens the flavor in your mouth.)
Dining etiquette for beginning to eat. Do not begin eating until the host says, "Buen provecho!". Dining etiquette for utensils. Mexicans 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.
Dining etiquette for the place setting. The fork and spoon above your plate are for dessert. Always start from the outside and work your way in, course by course. There will be separate glasses provided at your setting for water, and white and red wine or beer (after-dinner drink glasses come out after dinner). Dining etiquette for eating bread. Bread is placed on the rim of your main plate or on the table by your plate.
Dining etiquette for your hands. When not holding utensils, your hands are expected to be visible above the table: this means you do not keep them in your lap; instead, rest your wrists on top of the table (never your elbows). Dining etiquette for passing food. Pass all dishes to your left. Dining etiquette for eating salad. Never cut the lettuce in a salad: fold it with your knife and fork into a bundle that can be picked up with your fork. Any salad will usually be served after the main course.
Dining etiquette for seating. The most honored position is at the head of the table, with the most important guest seated immediately to the right of the host (women to the right of the host, and men to the right of the hostess). If there is a hosting couple, one will be at each end of the table.
Dining etiquette for the home. It is considered bad form to leave the dinner party or the table. At the table look for place cards, or wait until the host seats you.
Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who does the inviting pays the bill. Sometimes other circumstances determine who pays (such as rank).
Dining etiquette for tipping. A 10 percent tip is usually sufficient in restaurants.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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