Although the Russians don't believe they're superstitious,
they are the exact opposite so before arriving for dinner there's at least one
superstition you must be aware of. As you arrive to a Russian's house for dinner,
don't even think about offering your hand to them until you have completely
crossed the threshold. The arrival, however is the most complicated part of dinner.
Arrive on time and with a cake; enter the house or apartment completely, then offer
to shake hands. After this you must remove your shoes and you're ready to move
on. You will most likely be treated as an honored guest and you should return this
favor by dressing nicely. If you are male you are expected to socialize with the
other men, if you are female you should offer to help prepare the meal and the invitation
will almost certainly be accepted. Men who offer to help in the kitchen are commonly
laughed at and if you make it into the kitchen you will most certainly be kicked
out with a nervousness that you are crossing a cultural barrier.
Once the meal is served, eat in the continental style (fork in the left hand, knife
in the right), keep your hands within sight (but don't put your elbows on the
table), and wait to be served. Russians tend to serve the oldest or most honored
person first so wait until they determine your status has arrived.
To continue on the differing roles for each sex, women don't cut bread nor do
they pour drinks; the men must take on these roles so if you see a woman's drink
empty fill it up and if you are a woman, it won't be long before a fellow diner
fills your glass. Before emptying your glass though, you have to start drinking
and before that begins you must wait for a toast, which is typically first given
by the host.
It is considered rude to turn down food or to clean your plate. Try everything offered
to you and once you're finished eating, leave a little food on the plate to
show that the amount served was more than enough; this is a great compliment to
the host. The only exceptions to this are that you must finish your bread and your
If dining in a restaurant, the host or inviter is expected to pay. If you are a
guest, you are expected to offer to pay, but this offer will most likely be turned
Tipping is not common in Russia and after experiencing the
standard poor service nearly everywhere you won't be inclined to tip anyway.
The only exception to this rule is in nice restaurants catered to foreigners, particularly
in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Service in these locations substantially improves
and tips are expected in the form of about 10% for a meal.
All popular non-alcoholic drinks are available in Russia
and they have a great selection of juices. Tea is among the most popular drinks
in the country, as is mineral water, both still and carbonated water.
However, Russia is first and foremost known for their vodkas.
There are hundreds of local vodkas distilled in the country, but in today's
culture, beer is more commonly drunk. At celebrations though, the traditional vodka
dominates. The country also has numerous other drinks, including international beers,
wines, and hard liquors.
The tap water in Russia should not be consumed because in
many places it is not safe.