Updated: Jan 10
Eating with the locals when traveling can be a great experience, and any attempt to follow the local culture’s dining etiquette will be gladly appreciated by your hosts and the locals around you. Here are a few dining do’s and don’t around the world.
Alright, so step 1 (learn to eat with chopsticks) has been accomplished. Great. Now step 2 is simple. When you are not using your chopsticks lay them on the bowl, chopstick holder or plate. DO NOT leave them stuck upright in a bowl of rice or food. This is considered rude because this is how rice is offered to the deceased.
Another chopstick tip: Use the small end of a chopstick as your eating utensil, and the large end to serve others.
When you are full from your meal, be sure to leave a bit of your dish remaining on the plate. This signifies that you had plenty and the host provided more than enough. If you clean your plate, your host will think you need more food.
Generally Europeans eat using the Continental Style. For this you hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right. Cut, then eat with your fork still in your left hand. The fork and knife should remain in your hands at all times. This differs from the American style which is basically cut it all up, put down the knife and go to town with your fork.
As a foreigner it is best to avoid pouring wine in Argentina. There are a handful of traditions and rituals surrounding this act. For example if you use your left hand to pour, it conveys that you dislike the person you are pouring for. Yikes, that is probably not what you intended to communicate when you filled up the glass of your new friend.
Even if you are dinning with business colleagues, avoid talking ‘business’ unless the locals bring it up. It is not normally a topic of conversation at dinner.
The etiquette for drinking mate is to take a sip, wipe the straw and pass the gourd to your neighbor; they do the same in turn. Click here to see our video about Yerba Mate in Buenos Aires.
Also, plan to eat dinner later than normal. In Buenos Aires dinner begins around 9pm-10pm and can go into the morning hours. This is common. Most restaurants are not even open at 6pm.