Dining in any foreign place is always an orchestrated lesson on cultural practices. The casual diner in Europe will find the rules of the game are not always what they appear to be half way around the world. Eating out in Europe should be an enjoyable experience and not one that brings on international incidents. In order to avoid a dining goof, here are a few tips that generally can be applied to meals across the continent.
Know the Tip Situation: Travelers often research where they want to go and what they want to see while in Europe, but many neglect to read up on the tipping situation while eating out in their selected country. Tipping practices vary from country to country. If you don’t know the rules you could leave a wad of cash on the table when your service was already included in the bill or perhaps worse, leave no tip at all when a tip is expected. Most guidebooks touch on the tipping practices throughout Europe.
Splitting Bills Isn’t Common: If you ask the waiter or waitress across Europe to split the bill several different ways and across several different credit cards, you might meet some opposition. Generally, splitting the bill in Europe is seen as a hassle to the restaurant, especially when you hand over your foreign credit cards. It is always a good idea to have cash when you go out to eat, especially with a group.
Hands Off: While eating certain foods with your hands across the globe is normal, in Europe, you seldom will find this to be acceptable. Even for something like pizza in Italy or currywurst in Berlin, you can expect diners to be braving the whole pie or sausage with fork and knife and not their hands.
Refrain From Making Customized Requests: Especially in fine restaurants, if you request a dish to be cooked a certain way or without something specifically, you might suddenly have a rude waiter on your hands. Many establishments around Europe see suggestions on how to prepare their dishes as somewhat rude and over-stepping. If you are unsure about a dish or how it is prepared, ask your waiter for help in finding the right meal for you rather than angering the kitchen with requests.
Don’t Expect The Bill: In the United States, the bill is practically on the table before you have had your first bite. However in Europe, this is almost never the case. Long meals are considered commonplace. Once you have secured a table for the evening, the restaurant treats you as though that is your table for the night. There is no rush to turn the table over in most cases. If you are in a hurry, don’t merely wait around for the bill. It might never come. You may have to ask for the bill if you need to be somewhere in the next few hours.
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