Eating in a foreign country is not only about understanding the menu! Good table etiquette means knowing both what to say and how to behave. Read on to make sure you’re behaving properly at an English-speaking dinner table!
1. In an English-speaking country, cutlery refers to knives, forks and spoons (eating utensils). Everyone gets confused from time to time about which utensil to use. The basic rule is to start from the outside and work inwards (towards your plate).
2. During the meal, if you need to leave the table to go to the bathroom, simply say “Please excuse me for a moment.” You should also do this if you need to answer a phone call. While you can leave your cell phone on silent mode, it is more polite to turn it off.
3. Slurping (making a ‘slurp’ sound with your mouth) is something you should avoid at all costs! Be especially careful not to slurp when you are having soup or noodles!
4. Even if you have eaten a lot, your host will often try to encourage you to eat more. If you’ve really had enough, say “Thank you, but I really couldn’t eat another bite” or “I’m stuffed!”, which is an informal way of saying ‘very full’.
5. Indicate you have finished eating by ‘closing’ your knife and fork, (putting them together on your plate). You can say “What a delicious meal! Thank you so much.” to show your appreciation. Wait for everyone to finish before leaving the table.
6. It is considered rude to reach across the table. If you need the salt, or would like a dish that is not in your immediate area, you can say “Please pass the …”.
7. Finally, don’t worry about every little detail. Nowadays, etiquette is more about displaying graciousness and poise. And when in doubt, just look to your neighbor for clues!
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