What Is the Cultural Etiquette at Mealtime in Algeria?

Couscous with Vegetables and spicy Sauce

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Algeria is predominantly a Muslim country and a number of its social customs, including dining, reflect the rules of Islam, such as the absence of alcohol and the requirement that women dress modestly. Other aspects of mealtime etiquette are cultural rather than religious, such as sitting on the floor to eat. It is a great honor to receive an invite to dine in an Algerian home, and your hosts will appreciate your efforts to follow their traditions.

Arriving For Dinner

Remove your shoes at the door when you arrive. When you enter the room, greet the oldest person first, then go round the room greeting each person individually. Traditionally, women eat separately from the men. It is considered good manners for a female guest to offer her hostess help with setting out the food and clearing it away.

Table Manners

Wash your hands before and after eating. Typically, Algerians eat with the right hand. Do not eat with your left hand, or pass a dish to anyone using your left hand. If couscous is served, Algerians eat it with a tablespoon and use a fork to eat stew. It is customary to make sure a guest eats well. To honor this tradition, start with small portions from each dish. This allows you to comfortably accept more helpings. Also, leave some food on your plate when you've had enough -- this prevents your host from filling it again.