What is The Dining Etiquette in Mexico?

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Setting out to explore the world, it is always a thrill to climb aboard a cruise liner and set off on new and exciting shores, but few of us ever stop to think about the nuances and subtle customs of the countries we are visiting. 

While most cruises now include some form of culinary experience while in port, they rarely go beyond the realm of tapas and the occasional fresh lime with a cocktail. In reality, Mexico’s dining etiquette is steeped in a history of Spanish influence and a host of local customs that go far beyond the basics and into a world of traditions and subtlety.

Here are the basics

As with all cultures, it is important to do a little research in advance to avoid any embarrassing faux pas. Here are a few basics to help get you started:

When dining in Mexico, always wait to be seated by your host or hostess.

If you are dining with a group, be sure to wait for everyone to be seated before starting to eat.

Mexicans typically eat with their hands, so be sure to follow their lead.

Never start to eat until the host has given the signal to start.

Use your right hand only when eating.

The basic rule of thumb is to use one’s fingers to scoop food onto the tortilla and then use the tortilla to bring the food to your mouth.

Be sure to use polite language when addressing your hosts, servers, and others you encounter while dining.

If you need to leave the table during a meal, be sure to let your hosts know in advance.

When it comes to tipping, a customary tip for good service is 10-15%.

Specific customs

Now that you have a little background on the basics, let us take a closer look at some of the more specific customs and traditions of Mexican dining etiquette.

Pour Toasts:

Traditionally, toasting is an important part of Mexican dining etiquette, and it is customary to offer a toast to your hosts and to those seated around the table. When toasting, be sure to hold your glass with your right hand and say “Salud” (meaning “health”) before taking a sip.

Serve Others First:

In Mexico, it is customary to serve others before serving oneself. Be sure to offer food to those seated close to you, and let your hosts serve themselves first.

Use Your Fingers:

As mentioned earlier, in Mexico it is customary to eat with your hands. Follow the lead of those around you and use your fingers to scoop food onto your tortilla.

Be Aware of Your Utensils:

When using utensils, be sure to use the proper ones for the task at hand. For instance, use the knife to cut food, and use the fork to spear food to eat.

Watch Your Manners:

Just as in any other culture, it’s important to be aware of your manners when dining in Mexico. 

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