Brazilian Etiquette: Table Manners

Posted on 12. Mar, 2009 by in Customs

When learning a language, it’s just as important to learn about the culture so that you can apply your language skills in a respectful way. In this new series, we’re going to look at etiquette in Brazil to learn about basic customs. Today, we’re going to learn about table manners.

  • Do not talk with food in your mouth. It is considered extremely rude.
  • Try not to make noise when eating, as it may make people around you uncomfortable.
  • In more formal settings, do not place your elbows on the table.
  • It’s common to say “bom apetite” before you begin to eat.
  • Use the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right hand.
  • Use your utensils for all types of food, even pizza, sandwiches, and French fries. Food is very rarely eaten with bare hands, since it is considered unhygienic to do so.
  • If you do decide to eat food with your hands, wrap it in a napkin so your fingers aren’t touching it.
  • Do not cut with your fork, and be sure to rest the utensils on your plate if not using them.
  • After every sip you take of your drink, wipe your mouth on your napkin. If you forget, at least try to wipe your mouth several times throughout the meal.
  • Keep both hands above the table.
  • Do not drink directly from a bottle or a can. Always pour your drink into a glass.
  • When offered food, say “yes, thank you,” or offer a polite excuse as to not offend the person.
  • Absolutely never belch at the table, and be subtle about sneezing and coughing (be sure to cover your face with your hands). If you have to blow your nose, leave the table and go to the bathroom.
  • Toothpicks can be used at the table, but behind your hand or a napkin.

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7 Responses to “Brazilian Etiquette: Table Manners”

  1. Christopher 13 March 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Great tips Rachel!

    I’m sure I broke a few of these when in Brazil for sure, and I consider myself a very polite person here in the US…. It just goes to show you how much cultures are different, and specific!!

  2. Jeanne 13 March 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    What about making an American version of this subject? I know that you guys eat sandwiches and fries using your hands instead of forks (OK, I don’t use forks to eat a sandwich either).
    I tough that the table manners that you described were used as a universal rule all around the world, but I see that I’m wrong.

    What about making an American version of this subject? I know that you guys eat sandwiches and fries using your hands instead of forks (OK, I don’t use forks to eat a sandwich either).
    I tough that the table manners that you described were a universal rule

  3. Leah 16 March 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    Those are true, but i think in case of sandwichs, french fries and sometimes pizza you CAN use your hands to eat(I’ve never seen anyone eat sandwich with a fork, and I’m brazilian). About the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, we just do it to cut meat, otherwise it’s the other way around. The elbow thing is so stupid, even for me! Okay, i don’t put my elbows on the table, but it feels like doing it every once in a while. I think that’s it, hope it helped.

  4. Iara 14 March 2010 at 12:52 am #

    Well, we do not use the fork to eat sandwiches but, we usually wrap the sandwich in a napkin all right.

  5. felipe muniz 24 May 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Hello,

    You are almost correct on your etiquette tips but one is completely wrong: The use of toothpick is widely regarded as impolite and unhygienic. Good restaurants seldom offer toothpicks and dental floss is sometimes available in the toilets.
    I would classify the use of toothpick on the table as rude as a person who make noises while chewing the food or someone who belches during a meal.

  6. Michel 24 August 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Hello, I am Brazilian and I agree with most of these manners. But most of them are kind of universal manners, aren’t them? You are supposed to do most of these things in all cutures.

    Some ones that are not really this way:

    -We don’t say “bom apetite” before eating. It’s okay to say it, it shows you deserve the other person to enjoy the meal, but most of the time we say nothing, we just sit and eat and keep talking.

    -The fork in the left hand and the knife in the right is just to cut meat. We change positions when putting food into mouth. We change positions many times during a meal.

    -Elbows on the table ARE rude here; I would perfectly do it and accept it in a culture where putting elbows on the table are common, but not in Brazil.

    -I NEVER saw anyone eating sandwiches with fork and knife, unless it’s a big open sandwich. But we use them to eat pizza by the way.


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