It’s important to know the correct dining etiquette when visiting a different country. Good dining etiquette in Germany and Europe is not very different from that in the USA, but there are a few variations that you should know about. If you would like to blend in even better then here are a few helpful tips that will help get you started on mastering your German dining etiquette.
First things first…Arrive on time! Germans don’t do “fashionably late”. If you have been invited to someone’s home, it is courteous to bring a gift. Typically, gifts include wine, sweets, or flowers, except red roses, they are a sign of romance.
Fun facts about the dinner table:
1. Hold the fork in your left hand, the knife in your right hand.
2. Keep both in your hands while eating. Don’t put the knife or fork down except to drink or pick up bread. The knife (in your right hand) is also used to help discreetly guide food onto your fork (in your left hand).
3. Do not cut up an entire piece of meat at once. Cut off a bite-size piece and eat it before you cut off another piece.
4. If there are more utensils than just a knife and fork (salad fork, dessert spoon, etc.), the rule is simple: Move inward from the outside for each course. Sometimes spoons are placed above the plate rather than on the side.
5. When finished, lay your knife and fork side by side on your plate pointing to the center, with the handles on the lower right rim (five o’clock position).
6. Germans don’t put their hand on their lap while eating and it’s considered rude to put your elbows on the table.
7. Make sure you compliment the homecook or chef by saying “das schmeckt (gut/lecker/wunderbar)” – it tastes good/yummy/wonderful.
8. When eating or drinking together, wait until someone says “Guten Appetit” or wants to “anstossen”(click glasses to say “cheers”).
Tips on how to behave at the restaurant…
1. Unless it is a fancy restaurant you don’t usually have to wait to be seated. You can just find a table that is free.
2.Don’t expect any ice cubes in your soda, you need to ask for it.
3.There are NO free refills on drinks
4. Water will not automatically be brought to your table. You have to order it and you will be brought bottled water which you have to pay for.
5. You will be asked if you want the water “mit oder ohne Kohlensäure” meaning still or sparkling. If you want tap water you will have to specify that you would rather have “Leitungswasser”. Note: It is not customary to serve tap water at a restaurant in Germany.
6. If you cross your knife and fork on your plate, it means you are just pausing. If you lay your knife and fork side by side, it means you are finished, and the waiter may come and take your plate away.
7. Doggiebags are still mostly unknown so your waiter or waitress may be surprised if you asked to take leftovers home with you.
8. A general rule is to round up the bill, so if your bill is, say 22.50 Euros you might give 24 or 25. A general rule of thumb is to leave about 10%.
9. Unlike in the US, you may find that your waiter/waitress will remain at the table while you pay, so make sure to let them know how much tip you want to leave.
10. While credit cards are accepted in the majority of restaurants, it is more common to pay with cash.
Start practicing these tips today and have tremendous dining etiquette by the time you arrive Europe! Do you have more key dining etiquette tips? If so, please share with us in the comments below.