Dining Etiquette in Spain
If you travel frequently for work or pleasure, then you probably already know that food etiquette can vary from location to location. Depending on where your next business meeting is, dining etiquette may vary only slightly from your normal customs, or things might be completely different. If you’re traveling to a new destination like Spain, it’s wise to study what will be expected of you at the dinner table prior to arriving in the country.
The Basics of Dining Etiquette in Spain
In many regards, food etiquette in Spain is similar to what you’d experience in other locations in Europe, beginning with how you hold your utensils. Hold your knife in your right hand and your fork in your left. Be sure to avoid switching your utensils from one hand to the other during your meal even if your fork or knife isn’t in the hand you normally hold it with.
When you are done eating, lay your knife and fork parallel to each other on the right-hand side of the plate that’s in front of you. If you lay both of your utensils on your plate for a while during your meal, your waiter or waitress may take it as a sign that you’re done eating.
To avoid having your plate removed from the table prematurely, put your knife and fork on one side of your dish to signal that you’re not finished eating.
The Do's of Dining Etiquette in Spain
When you take your seat, you may be faced with several pieces of cutlery around your plate. The fork and spoon located above your dish should be used during dessert exclusively.
If you’re unsure about which utensils you should use during the rest of your meal, start with the utensils located the furthest from your dish and work your way toward your plate on a course-by-course basis.
In general, you shouldn’t expect a bread dish when you enjoy a meal in Spain. If one is served, dining etiquette in Spain mandates that you place your bread on the edge of your main plate or lay it directly on the table next to your dish. When it’s included in a meal, bread is typically not served with butter, so enjoy the taste of your bread on its own.
The Don'ts of Dining Etiquette in Spain
Meals are generally not the time during which many Spaniards make business decisions. While you may be eager to get down to business and discuss the latest impending deal, you should pay close attention to the cues your dining companions provide. If they haven’t brought up business yet, be patient and wait until they do.
To avoid embarrassing yourself, don’t take a seat until you’re invited to do so. For formal gatherings, the seating order is often predetermined, with the most significant diner sitting to the right of your party’s host or hostess.
If your party is going from one room to another, do not prevent more senior members of your group from entering the room before you. Step aside and let them go ahead of you. Women should also be given the right of way when entering a room.
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