Basic rules of dining etiquette in any given country or locale reflect its history, tradition, customs, and cultural values that are often subconsciously absorbed from the world around us. For true insight into another culture, an authentic restaurant experience is one of the surest ways to learn how to behave in a culturally appropriate manner, and more importantly, how not to behave.
However, as the late, great Geert Hofstede explained, “Studying culture without experiencing culture shock is like practicing swimming without experiencing water.”
For all the travelers, lifelong learners, global gastronomes, and culture shock connoisseurs out there, we’ve curated a list of unexpected etiquette dos and don’ts for Americans to follow when dining with locals in restaurants around the world.
Starting on the western coast, we first come to one of the more formal table mannered countries in South America where utensils rule. Anything and everything is eaten with utensils. From traditional fare like asado, empanadas or fresh fruit, to burgers and fries, it is considered rude to eat without a fork and knife. Eating without utensils communicates to others a basic lack of hygiene.
So grab the fork and knife and don’t put them down … until you want to speak. Chileans prefer speaking when eating utensils aren’t in one’s hand.