|A "diffa" is an Arabic reception or banquet. General Mark Clark and Caid El Ayadi dining in 1943|
General Mark Clark, head of United States forces in Morocco, is eating with his fingers at the great diffa, or feast, given by the rich, Caid El Ayadi, on the occasion of a wolf hunt. General Clark and his staff enjoyed the diffa immensely. —
As reported in The Enterprise and Scimitar, May 1943
Dining in the Middle East
To avoid making your hosts feel uncomfortable, there are a few simple guidelines to follow.
- Bring a small gift of flowers, chocolates, pastries, fruit or honey.
- It’s polite to be seen to wash your hands before a meal.
- Always remove your shoes before sitting down on a rug to eat or drink tea.
- Don’t sit with your legs stretched out – it’s considered rude during a meal.
- Always sit next to a person of the same sex at the dinner table unless your host(ess) suggests otherwise.
- Use only your right hand for eating or accepting food.
- When the meal begins, accept as much food as is offered to you. If you say ‘no thanks’ continually, it can offend the host.
- It’s good manners to leave a little food on your plate at the end of the meal: traditionally, a clean plate was thought to invite famine. It can also suggest to your host that they haven't fed you sufficiently.
- Your host will often lay the tastiest morsels in front of you; it’s polite to accept them.
- The best part – such as the meat – is usually saved until last, so don’t take it until offered.
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia