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Social Eating Etiquette and Faux Pas in Ecuador

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Manners and etiquette to remember in Ecuador. And faux paus to avoid.

The next time you catch a flight down to Ecuador, keep in mind that their manners and eating habits do not conform to our lackadaisical attitudes in America. When your new Ecuadorian friends invite you over for dinner at their place, there are a couple expected customs that will either make you or break you in the eyes of your new friends.

In the event that you receive an invite to join your acquaintances for an evening meal, make sure that you RSVP. Not doing so is considered rude. When you are getting dressed for the social function, choose your classy skirt over your comfy jeans, because by dressing well you prove to your host that you respect them. Casual dinner parties are not the norm. In Ecuador, when invited to arrive at six it is custom to wait until 6:45 to show up. Being fashionably late in Ecuador applies to a private dinner as well as parties! Believe me, your hosts won't think you are rude when you knock at 6:40. Remember! They expect it!

After the men embrace and the women kiss each other’s cheeks and everyone has been seated, the host will serve his guests first and then invite everyone to dig in with the saying “Bueno provecho.” The translation: “have a good meal” or “enjoy.” Before taking the first sip of your beverage, wait for the toast, which is usually the short phrase, “Salud!” The host is responsible for the first toast. If the toast is for a specific person, look at the ones being toasted. Utensil usage is relatively the same as in America, meaning fork in the left hand, knife in the right, but there is no such thing as “finger foods.” Your fork and knife are used for everything, including fruit. There will usually be an abundance of exotic fruits, so make note of this important rule. Dinner conversation should avoid business, unless your host brings it up. Instead, stay on topics of the whether, the host’s beautiful family, and the marvelous food. Meals can be a lengthy affair in Ecuador, so be prepared with lots of exciting conversation topics.

Unlike in America, do not eat everything on your plate unless you want a second helping. When you eat everything on your plate, it signals to your host that you are still hungry and therefore unsatisfied. Only when there is a little food on your plate and a quarter amount of liquid still in your glass, will they stop refilling your plate and glass.

Lunch adheres to similar manners and is considered the main meal. Lunch is often eaten with alcohol. People in Ecuador are not used to seeing women drink hard liquor, expecting them to stick with a glass of wine instead.

Now that you have the basics, don’t be shy in accepting an invite or making friends in Ecuador.

Sources:

Kwintessential, Ecuador-Language, Customs, Culture, and Etiquette, 6 Jul. 2011 <http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/ecuador.html>

Nicol, Joni. "Ecuador." Cyborlink. Ed. M.B.A.-International Business Studies. 2008. University of Texas at Dallas. 6 Jul. 2011 <http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/ecuador.htm>

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Donata L.
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Posted on Jul 8, 2011

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Julie Craig

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