Première classe A1 Breakthrough

Culture(s): social conventions during meals

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Before drinking your beer, you can raise your glass and say "Santé!" to the others at the table.
Smoking in restaurants is prohibited.
France, Belgium and Switzerland are coffee-drinking countries.
Wishing people a good meal is customary at lunch and dinner.
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Conception: Geneviève Briet, Université catholique de Louvain
Published on 01/06/2013 - Modified on 22/08/2017

Culture(s) / Social conventions during meals

In your country, in your culture, are there rituals to be followed at the dinner table? Are there any specific gestures or words to be pronounced during or after the meal? Are there any comments or wished you are expected to make before or after a meal with guests? Are there any gestures associated with religious practices or social interaction? What do you usually drink with your meal? Is it a drink made with boiling water, such as tea or coffee, or is it an alcoholic beverage? What is the role of alcohol? How is alcohol applied to social situations? Do people propose toasts? Who would do it, and what social status would this person have? How would the toast be formulated? Do people clink glasses before drinking their glass of wine or beer? Do people usually have an alcoholic beverage before, during or after a meal? Who proposes toasts? The men? The women? How old do you have to be, to be allowed to drink a glass of wine or beer? In your country, in your culture, do people smoke during a meal? After a meal? Which meal would that be? In French-speaking cultures, it is customary to wish people a good meal at lunch and dinner. When you're attending a meal as a guest, it is customary to say something nice about what you're eating. You're expected to show your appreciation for the culinary value of the dish that was prepared for you. In France, when you're invited to eat, there is always an aperitif before the meal. You can even have your neighbours over just for an aperitif. The latter is usually a drink (generally with alcohol) and various crackers and appetizers. In France, Belgium, and Switzerland, people usually drink water with a meal (over the course of the whole meal), and coffee (at the end of the meal), and adults can also have a glass of wine. Traditionally, you don't drink fruit juice or soda during a meal. In France, a bottle of wine often complements meals among friends or family, or business meals. Beer is enjoyed more and more outside of meals. Before drinking a glass of wine or beer, both men and women can lift their glasses, sometimes clinking them against those of the other people at the table (trinquer: clinking glasses), and saying "Santé!" (To your health!) Proposing a toast is no longer very common in France itself, though it is still a commonplace practice in some French-speaking countries like Armenia, to honour a person, a family, or a community, by drinking to their health, or to drink to a company's future prosperity. You don't usually smoke at the breakfast table. Smoking is now prohibited in France's cafés and restaurants, and in restaurants in Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada. If you are invited to someone's house, you may ask for permission to smoke after the meal is over. You'll be invited to smoke either in a specific room or outside.

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