The French give more importance to food and follow specific customs when it comes to eating. They adhere to some strict table manners and expect guests to adhere to dining etiquettes too. Here’s a guide to help you with a few pointers that will assist in following the French customs while dining out.
The Outfit You Adorn
Dressing up to the occasion is extremely essential. The host would have put in a lot of effort preparing your dinner, and it is common courtesy that you acknowledge it by being appropriately dressed instead of going underdressed. Shopping for the occasion is a good idea too and valid reason to indulge in some French shopping experiences.
Avoid Dipping Directly into The Nibbles
Did you receive an invitation to a party?
Check if it is a formal party. If yes, ensure there will be plates to use for nibbles. Even if the family is known to you, and it is a house-party, ensure that you pick up a handful of nibbles and eat from your plate. Avoid directly picking up the bites and popping them into your mouth. At the same time if you are using dip, just like you do with the nibbles, serve some of the dip onto your plate and eat from there. Double-dipping is frowned upon. Do not forget your serviettes.
Start After the Go-ahead Sign
French are strict about food, rules and table manners. This is the reason you should wait for your host to fill everyone’s glass. Even when raising to a toast, make it a point to look into people’s eyes. On being invited to dinner, wait to be seated, served and do not start eating until you receive the go-ahead sign from your host, usually a ‘bon appétit’.
Note: It is best to use the washroom before you start eating. This is because leaving the table during a meal is considered rude.
Pay Attention to Bread-etiquette
If you are offered bread, break a piece off the bread and keep it on the left-hand side of your plate. Do not directly bite into your piece; instead, cut or break it into small pieces and pop them into your mouth. It is acceptable to mop your food up with bread. In France, it is seen as a hearty acceptance of food, while this act may horrify many other country customs.
Always Position Your Hands on the Table
Keeping the hands on the table during dinner is valued in France. However, the act of keeping hands on your lap is regarded as polite, in other countries, its not the same with the French. There is some learning that tourists have to do when it comes to hand-on-table practice; however, it is not a hard rule.
Always Eat Using a Knife and Fork
In France, you are expected to use a fork and knife while eating. Everything here is eaten with cutlery, but for a few exceptions such as sandwiches, asparagus spears, and bread. On finishing the course of eating, always place the knife and fork together. Also, if you want to eat chips, follow the host on whether you should use your fork or not.
Eat Everything and Do Not Ask for More
At the table, the French expect their guests to eat and finish everything served on your plate. In fact, in an informal gathering, second servings may not be offered, and you must not ask for more. It is a strict no-no to ask for more. However, wine and water will be topped up regularly.