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Sandwich in the desert

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
Das Dinner läuft gut. Ihr Londoner Geschäftspartner ist angetan von Ihnen. Doch dann bitten Sie den Ober um "the card" - und bekommen statt der Speisekarte die Visitenkarte des Restaurants serviert. Wer ein Geschäftsessen plant, sollte deshalb neben Tischmanieren auch die nötigen Vokabeln beherrschen.
More than twelve years after moving to Germany, I still make one of the classic mistakes when eating out. If, for example, I am asked "Hätten Sie gerne Kuchen?", I often reply "Danke" when I mean "yes", because in English I would say "oh, thank you". No wonder I am losing weight.

So if you answer "thank you" in English when offered more food, don't be surprised when it arrives, even though you didn't want it. "No, thank you" or "Thank you, but I'm fine", would be the right response.

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Eating out with English-speaking business partners can be a more difficult experience than you might imagine. Here are some phrases and tips:

An inviting idea. First you need to invite your business partner, for example, by saying "Would you care to join me for dinner this evening?" or "Would you like to go to lunch tomorrow?"

Tell me when.
Check which day or time is suitable by asking "Is Thursday convenient for you?", "Does six o'clock suit you?", or "Is eight o'clock OK with you?" Replies might be "That sounds great", or, if you can't make it, "I'm sorry, but haven't really got time this week". Remember that if an English person says "half-seven", they mean 7.30 not 6.30.

Careful, careful! In English, you ask for the "menu", not the "card". The English word for "Menü" is "set meal". The usual parts of a meal are the first course or starter, the main course and the dessert (see below).

What is it? If your guests do not understand German, you might want to ask: "Do you need any help with the menu?" Useful phrases for describing food are: "It's a kind of ...", "It's a bit like ...", "It's made of ...".

Food or animal? Unlike in German, English-speakers don't always refer to meat by the animal it comes from. We say "pork" not "pig", "beef" not "cow", "veal" not "calf", "mutton" not "sheep", and "venison" not "deer". Exceptions from this rule are "lamb", "chicken", "turkey", "duck" and "rabbit".

Help, please! If you are unfamiliar with the dishes on the menu, you could say to your partner: "What would you recommend?" Likewise, in a restaurant you know well, you might say: "I can recommend ...".

Order, order! When ordering in English, people usually say "I'll have the ..." or "I'd like the ...". Do not say "I take ..." or "I get ...". And you should certainly not say "I become ...".

Non-starter. Don't be surprised if your business partner simply starts eating without saying anything. Traditionally, neither Britain nor America has had an equivalent to "Guten Appetit". However, it is becoming common to say "Enjoy your meal!" or simply "Enjoy!". In some British circles, you may even hear "Bon appetit". However, if you say "good appetite", your partner might think you are suggesting that they like to eat a lot.

After you! If your partner's meal arrives before yours, you could say "Please start", "Don't wait for me", or "Don't let your meal get cold".

How is it for you? It is polite to ask whether your partner is enjoying his or her food. Simply say "How's your meal?" or "How do you like the ...". Possible replies are "It's lovely", "It's delicious" or "It's very nice, how's yours?".

Next, please! Remember that "dessert" has a double "s" and is pronounced "desSERT". If you say "DESert", people will think you're talking about the Sahara or Gobi. (Old joke: "Why will you never be hungry in a desert? Because of all the sand which is there.")

Pay up! When it is time to pay, say "Could we have the bill, please?" (British) or "Could we have the check, please?" (American). If you want to pay, say "I'll get this", "Let me get this" or "This is my/my company's treat". Do not say "I'll invite you". The reply to an invitation is "Thank you. That's very kind of you", or "No, no, I insist (on paying)".

A final tip.
In Britain, it is normal to leave a tip of ten per cent. In America, tips of 15 to 20 percent are expected.
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 21.01.2002