Having been all over the world, Adam Barralet has learned a lot of valuable tips along the way. Each week he takes us to a different country and offers his tips on what to expect and what manners are acceptable. After taking us to India last week, today he shares his etiquette tips when visiting Argentina:
Argentineans are renowned for being a friendly country. When meeting someone for the first time a good handshake is best. As rapport builds a kiss on the right cheek is customary. If you ever need a conversation starter, try one of the two country’s passions, tango or football. When out and about there are several actions that may be simple habits but can be considered rude. Avoid slouching, standing with your hands in your pockets, yawning and stretching.
You may consider it good luck when a bird dropping lands on you but you may not be so lucky in Argentina. Pick pockets in Argentina use a tactic of throwing a little mustard on someone’s shoulder then while coming to their aid, helping themselves to the contents of your pockets.
If you are dining at someone’s home bring a gift of flowers, imported spirits or candy. The family is the centre of Argentine life with extended families still having prominence. Children are seen as important so bring them a gift, as well as any senior family member. If you are given a gift, it is expected that you open it straight away.
Dress well when attending a home dinner party. Men should wear a jacket and tie. Women should wear a dress or a skirt and blouse, and don’t overdo the make-up. Arrive 30 to 45 minutes later than invited for a dinner party and phone the following day to thank your hosts.
Whether dining at a home or in a restaurant, table manners are considered very important. Wait for the host or hostess to tell you where to sit. There may be a seating plan. Table manners are Continental, thus hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Don’t put your knife down while eating as North Americans do. Don’t begin eating until the hostess invites you to do so. Always keep your hands visible when eating, but do not rest your elbows on the table. Wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink. It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right. Pouring wine is beset with many rituals and cultural taboos. If at all possible, avoid pouring wine until you are familiar with them.
Furthermore when dining out, be prepared to eat late as many restaurants don’t open till 8pm, with people starting to eat around 9pm. Although ten percent gratuity is added to the bill, a further ten percent tip is standard.
Argentines are a warm peoples and their unreservedness brings to the fore their passion and sentimentality. Argentina is one place you shouldn’t be too concerned about but a foot wrong. …it’s easier than the tango.