Culture(s) / Eating style

A1 Breakthrough
Fork, knife and spoon: what are the rules to obey when eating at the dinner table in French-speaking countries?
In your country, in your culture, do you eat with your fingers? For any food or just some? Can you use your left hand? Do you use a spoon, a fork, a knife, chopsticks? Who presents the dish? Who serves the food? Do children eat with adults? Who is first served? What is the best part? Do you touch with your fingers or with your own cutlery what someone else will eat? Do you have to wait for the signal of someone specific to start eating or does everyone start eating when they receive their plate?

Cutlery tradition changes significantly across French-speaking countries: people use a fork, a knife and a spoon in countries like France, a spoon and a fork in countries like Laos, Thailand, chopsticks in countries like Vietnam or Japan, and their hands like in Senegal. In France, some food are eaten with the hands (French fries, crepes, some international dishes such as pizza or sandwiches), however it is customary to use cutlery when eating at a restaurant.

It is quite common nowadays in Occidental French-speaking countries for men to cook and serve the food. In France, the meal is an important moment, the family usually eats together. Adults help themselves to the dish, but with family or friends, one person can serve the whole table. You use the cutlery placed in the plate to help yourself. You do not pass on food with your hand or with cutlery that you have put in your mouth.
You have to wait until everyone is served and the hosts start eating before eating. If you have to pass a dish or an object in front of someone, you apologize by saying: “pardon ! ”. Once you are done eating, you place your cutlery parallel to each other on you plate.

Practical exercises

autour de la table

Culture(s): eating habits

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