The main etiquette rule to follow when entertaining guests from different cultural backgrounds is to research their customs and have a broad understanding of their cultures. By researching cultural practices, this helps ensure that nothing is done to offend your guests. Talking to others from that same country, the library and internet are all beneficial resources to use for broadening your knowledge.
Remember to be mindful of food restrictions during the preparation and planning stages. Inquiring of your guests preferences is acceptable. Statements as simple as “do you have any dietary restrictions, dislikes or preferences that I should be aware of,” can assist in making appropriate meal choices.
Another option to consider while planning your meal is to incorporate a side dish or beverage from your guests’ country of origin. Rice is a universal dish enjoyed by many and tea or wine after dinner would be welcomed by most. For those friends with repeated visits, you can invite them to prepare one of their authentic dishes or meals.
Be a gracious and hospitable host. Make it your top priority to create an environment where your guests feel welcomed and comfortable. Convey the same warm behaviors you would exhibit when entertaining someone from your own country. It is not imperative that you completely alter your behavior or prepare the entire meal to coincide with your guests’ area of the world. Most visiting guests are probably more interested in learning about your culture, traditions and family.
Consider… if you were visiting Japan and received a dinner invitation to a friend’s home of Japanese descent, would you prefer an American or Japanese meal? My preference would be the latter, the Japanese meal. This affords me the opportunity to experience new foods and learn about the traditions, culture and lifestyles of other countries. Discussions relating to cultural differences and similarities can inspire interesting table conversation. What a valuable learning experience!
Entertaining international guests can be an extremely intriguing and gratifying experience. Partaking in a meal with another from across the globe affords one the opportunity to embrace other cultures.