Learn American Table Manners

Learn American Table Manners

Dining out in a new country is an exciting, but sometimes scary, experience. When coming to the U.S. to study, going out to eat with friends or family is a must. However, table manners differ across the world. You may come to the U.S. and find some things strange or even rude. Here are a couple of common behaviors to remember when going out to eat.  

  1. Utensils

When you are eating your food with a fork or spoon, the utensil should be held with your right hand (or left hand if you are left-handed). However, when you need to use your knife to cut up your food, you move your fork to your left hand and hold your knife with your right hand. You can use your fork to hold your food with your left hand while cutting the food with your right hand.

After you have cut up your food, put the knife down, and switch the fork back into your right hand. For most food, use your utensils, not your hands. However, there are exceptions with certain foods like chicken, unpeeled shrimp,french fries, and pizza. 

  1. Napkins

The restaurant will usually place napkins on your table or use the napkins to wrap your utensils for you. If you are eating out and the restaurant gives you a cloth napkin, unfold it, place the utensils on the table, and place the napkin on your lap. For bigger napkins, you can fold the napkin in half and place it in your lap. Keep the napkin in your lap until the end of the meal, and when the meal is over, leave the napkin folded at the left side of your plate. 

  1. When to eat

Occasionally when you have bigger groups, the food comes out at different times. Although you may be the first person to get your food and you may be starving, it is polite to wait for everyone at the table to get their food. However, if those who did not receive their food insist, it is acceptable to go ahead and start eating. 

  1. Eating

While in America, try to eat as neatly as possible. This means taking small bites of your food and chewing with your mouth closed. You should also not talk while you have food in your mouth. This is why it is important to take small bites. If you have too much food in your mouth and someone asks you a question, you will be stuck trying to quickly chew your food so you can answer quickly.

Try to also pace your eating with others at your table. You don’t want to be the first one who rushed to finish their food. Cut up your food and chew slowly. 

Now that you know what to do and what not to do, we hope you will feel a little more confident when going out to eat. Lastly, if you are unsure about something, don’t be afraid to ask!

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Published on April 27, 2021

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