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Fork tines down, point with thumb...what other cultural differences do I need to know?

Fork tines down, point with thumb...what other cultural differences do I need to know?

Feb 13th, 2007, 05:58 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Ira - your "tips" remind me of our first trip to Paris and being on the moving sidewalks in the Metro. Everyone was saying "a droite, a droite" and it took us a day or so to realize that they weren't saying "good morning".
Not touching the merchandise is a hard one for us as my wife likes to feel the clothes and "paw through" them. It has its advantages, however, when shopping at the markets the shopkeeper chooses the best fruit or vegetable for your purpose.
robjame is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 06:08 AM
  #22  
 
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"This would never happen in France. All desserts are eaten with a spoon".


Not necessarily. Fruits are eaten with a fork and a knife and some pastries with a fork.
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 06:48 AM
  #23  
 
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Fruit is not really a dessert in France, and as for eating some pastries with a fork, why not? But a silverware set sold in France will come with dessert spoons, not dessert forks.
kerouac is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 06:51 AM
  #24  
 
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does this mean I should have used chopsticks in China? I don't get along well with chopsticks and used a spoon and fork. Very bad of me I suppose.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:05 AM
  #25  
 
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I found my Chinese hosts were very impressed to see I had mastered the 'sticks. In a business environment, every cultural plus is a benefit.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:08 AM
  #26  
 
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Well, I suppose if they gave you a fork and spoon they expected you to use them!
vedette is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:12 AM
  #27  
 
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Be nice, be polite, be circumspect, and it won't matter what direction your fork is turned. Really, truly these things don't matter as long as you are polite and respectful.

No one is going to be in restaurant monitoring your eating behavior and clucking about how horrid you are. They will mind if you are talking loudly or being coarse.
MikeT is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:19 AM
  #28  
lawchick
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The only real advice I would give Americans about eating in Europe, particularly France, is that food arrives at a slower pace.

There is at least 20 mins between courses. The bill does not arrive the minute you finish your dessert.

Don't get upset about it. Just go with the flow.

For my honeymoon I was on a Carribbean island - there were Americans and Europeans there. The food was very good - theough the Americans complained that the service was too slow and the Europeans complained that they were being rushed!
 
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:36 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I also noticed that when you are in line, the sales person will usually not acknowledge your presence, but focus attention on the person s/he's helping. Don't fret. Soon it will be your turn for the "focus".

Also, I've noticed in restaurants they will pour your wine, but never your water. As if it isn't presumptious to assume you want more wine, but rude to assume you want more water. (I'm not complaining!)
christycruz is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:56 AM
  #30  
 
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These are all excellent suggestions, but the only one that will actively piss off Europeans if you don't follow it yourself is "keep to the right on sidewalks and escalators". Seriously. Keep to the right unless you're charging through. Single file, I should add; there is nothing that annoys people more than a group of three or four all facing each other in a circle, spread across the stairs, chatting away.

Other than that, your good old fashioned American politeness will do you very well, assuming you're one of the few who remember what it is. Big smile at all times, please and thank you every time (if you can't manage the local language version), and self-prepossession that never turns into arrogance, and you'll be fine. They'll know you're Americans, and they won't mind you for it.

As for eating, the only thing you need to know is to eat the way you normally do, but maybe with a little extra politeness. Stuff yer bleedin' pie hole just a little bit more slowly than you might at home. Pretend you're at your stuffy grandma's, and be on your best behavior. And remember the smile. Always the smile. Europeans have a cultural memory of Americans who smile, which will take precedence over their memories of Americans who don't if you give it a chance.

And, as in all things, be slow to take offense (and slow to give it). If you're on the constant lookout for "rudeness", you'll see it everywhere, but if you think of it as increased formality, you never will.
fnarf999 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:06 AM
  #31  
 
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Like artlvr in his or her original post, I find it interesting and challenging to try to get it right in a culture I visit, and would just as soon know what is expected of civilized people locally. This information was hard to find when I first moved to Paris, so, now that I have been here for awhile, I am trying to write a guide myself. Europeans are begged to correct it. They and others are invited to contribute at http://www.private-list.com/wiki/ind...nner_etiquette.
lamer is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:08 AM
  #32  
 
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" And remember the smile. Always the smile. Europeans have a cultural memory of Americans who smile, which will take precedence over their memories of Americans who don't if you give it a chance."
Are you sure you kinow what that " cultural memory of Americans who smile" is?
robjame is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:12 AM
  #33  
lawchick
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Chewing gum and silk stockings still make me nervous.
 
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:36 AM
  #34  
 
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lawchick wrote: "Chewing gum and silk stockings still make me nervous."

The gum bit is okay, but chewing silk stockings really unnerves me (particularly if they are full at the time).
Padraig is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:49 AM
  #35  
 
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lamer, I looked at your page, and have a couple of suggestions.

1. In many European countries, France included, bread is available with both entrée and main course.

2. It is common in France to serve the main course from a platter on the table, with guests served first, and they may be invited to serve themselves.

I think that overall you focus on a formal style that is becoming less common.
Padraig is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 09:13 AM
  #36  
 
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"Fruit is not really a dessert in France"

Really, what is it then?
I am French and I can assure you we have more fruit than pastry at dessert at home.
It is different of course when you go to a restaurant.

"and as for eating some pastries with a fork, why not? But a silverware set sold in France will come with dessert spoons, not dessert forks".

A silverware set comes with both dessert spoons (cuillères à dessert) and dessert forks (fourchettes à dessert) and is called "couverts à dessert".

You can also include dessert knifes (couteaux à dessert) but you usually buy them together with the regular knives set.




Pvoyageuse is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 09:14 AM
  #37  
 
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I have lived in England for over 60 years, and have never observed that the British rest their hands in their laps while eating. As children, we were always told about not resting our elbows on the table, but I do not think that taboo still applies in ordinary life. Certainly, the American habit of right hand holding the fork and left hand out of sight looks strange to our eyes, and is a topic of discussion with American visitors. What do other Brits think?
chartley is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 09:54 AM
  #38  
 
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Robjame, what I mean is as simple as "be the good stereotype, not the bad stereotype".
fnarf999 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:31 AM
  #39  
 
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Also, (in France, at least) no bread plates. You set the uneaten portion of your piece of bread directly on the tablecloth.
janeygirl is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:31 AM
  #40  
 
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Apparently the American way of eating stems from the late introduction of the fork and it is a style of eating suited to a knife and a spoon.
waring is offline  

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