Culture(s) / Customs during meals

A1 Breakthrough
Drink wine, smoke a cigarette and clink glasses: some examples of do’s and dont’s during a meal.
In your country, in your culture, are there rituals at the table? Gestures or words someone should say before eating or during the meal? Required comments or wishes before or after a meal together? Gestures related to a religious practice or a conviviality practice?
What is the drink usually served with the meal? Is it a drink with boiled water such as tea or coffee, or an alcoholic drink? What is the place of alcohol? How is alcohol used in the context of social interaction? Would someone make a toast? Who would make it and what status would the person have? What would be the content of the toast? Do you clink glasses before drinking a glass of wine or beer? Do people usually drink an alcoholic beverage before, during or after a meal? Who clink glasses? Men? Women? At what age can you drink a glass of wine or a glass of beer?
In your country, in your culture, do you smoke during the meal? After the meal?

In French-speaking cultures, it is common to say “enjoy your meal” to others at lunch or dinner. At a meal you are invited to, it is common to make a positive comment on what you are eating. It is expected of you to appreciate the gourmet quality of a dish prepared for you, you can also show it by finishing your plate.

In France, when you are invited, the meal is almost always preceded by an aperitif. You can even invite neighbors or colleagues just for an aperitif. It consists of a drink (usually alcoholic) and small crackers, small raw vegetables or condiments (such as olives, peanuts).

During the meal, in France, Belgium and Switzerland, common drinks  are water (during the meal) and coffee (at the end of the meal). Traditionally, people do not drink fruit juice or soda during the meal. It is not uncommon for adults to drink an alcoholic beverage at the table (wine, beer, etc.).
Before drinking your glass of wine or beer, you can raise your glass, and you may clink it with others at the table (toast), and wish each other “Santé !”, both men and women.

Proposing a toast, a common practice in some French-speaking countries such as Armenia, is no longer common in France: it means drinking to the health of somebody, a family, a community that we want to honor, to the success or prosperity of a company.

It is customary not to smoke at the table. In Europe or in Canada, it is forbidden to smoke inside cafés and restaurants. If you are invited to a house or an apartment, you must ask permission to smoke at the end of the meal. You will then be offered to smoke in a certain room, at the window or outside.

Practical exercises

Culture(s): social conventions during meals

4 exercises
Look • Listen • Intercultural (everyday life / meals)