Culture(s) / Eating habits

In your country, in your culture, do you eat with your fingers? Does this apply to all food, or just some? Are you allowed to use your left hand? Do you use spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks? Who brings out the meal? Who serves the food? Do the children eat with the adults? Who is served first? Which is the best helping? Can you touch someone else's food with your own utensils or fingers? Are you expected to wait for a cue from a specific person to start eating, or can you start as soon as you have your plate?

What you traditionally eat your food with varies greatly from one French-speaking country to the next: you use forks, knives and spoons in countries like France, spoons and forks in countries like Laos, chopsticks in countries like Vietnam, and your hands in countries like Senegal. You hold the fork in your left hand to spear your food and the knife in your right hand, but when you are not using the knife, the fork goes in your right hand. In France, when artichokes are served whole, it is customary to eat them with your fingers, and the same rule applies to asparagus.

The French are very fond of certain table customs. Traditionally, the hostess brings out the dishes, but things have changed: today - is fairly commonplace for the man to cook and bring the dishes out in Western French-speaking countries. In France, meals are an important family moment, where everyone comes together to eat.
Adults can usually help themselves from the main dish, but when among family or friends, usually a single person serves the others at the table. To help yourself from a dish, you use the serving spoon and fork to set out with that dish. You don't pass food using your hands or a utensil you've already eaten with.
Before eating, you must wait for everyone to be served, and for your hosts to begin eating. If you need to reach in front of someone to pass a dish or an object, it is good manners/polite to say: "excuse me." When you have finished eating, you set your cutlery down on your plate side by side.