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First trip to Italy. What is the correct way to eat spaghetti?

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Nov 6th, 2000, 07:53 AM
  #1
Joanne
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First trip to Italy. What is the correct way to eat spaghetti?

Will be joining my husband for a business trip in Italy, but we will both be invited to a social event by some of his business associates. I would not wish to make ourselves look foolish. Just how does one eat spaghetti? How does one ensure no sauce falls on oneís clothing? Any advice?
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 08:30 AM
  #2
xxx
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One might watch others around the table to observe how they are consuming their pasta.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 08:34 AM
  #3
elvira
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You twirl a few strands on a fork, using a large tablespoon that's provided. Here's the interesting part - Italians use only enough sauce to coat the pasta; the pasta does not "swim" in gravy. Consequently, the splattering we usually get from gravy doesn't happen. I'm not kidding here, why not try it at home? Boil up some spaghetti (al dente, by the way, which means still somewhat hard and chewy), then BARELY coat the pasta with sauce of your choice, and twirl away.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 08:42 AM
  #4
Leslie
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We just returned from a month in Italy. Not once did I see anyone use a large spoon to twirl their spagetti! We were in Tuscany & Umbria-perhaps they do this in southern Italy & Sicily- where most of the American-Italians come from. There are more types of pastas than just spagetti-great gnocchi, ravioli, etc. Try them all. Remember pasta is usually the primi piatti, after the antepasta and followed by a secondi (a meat), then insalate, dolci and then coffee. Don't make to faux paux of ordering coffe with your meal! A good dinner can take 1-3 hours, so relax and enjoy!
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 08:59 AM
  #5
Dawn
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A tablespoon is an american custom when eating spaghetti. You won't see an Italian eat with one.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:06 AM
  #6
elvira
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Once again, hallucinating; I could have sworn I got a tablespoon when I got spaghetti in Malcontenta.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:07 AM
  #7
Carol
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I've noticed that in Italy, many Italians use the side of the bowl to stabilize the fork while twirling the spaghetti.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:20 AM
  #8
Elizabeth White
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Yes, I understand that twirling against the side of the bowl is the traditional Italian way of eating spagetti. Spoons are provided for those of us who can't manage this!

I would suggest, twirl a SMALL amount, and get it thoroughly wrapped around the fork, before raising the fork to your mouth. This should minimise splashing. Alternatively, tuck a napkin/serviette in your neckline, guzzle and enjoy the experience!
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:20 AM
  #9
brooklynkid
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As a child I was taught to use a big spoon in the left hand, fork in the right, to twirl spaghetti and linguine. In Italy I didn't notice people using a spoon, so I didn't. However, it is very difficult to twirl long thin pasta WITH A HOLE IN IT (e.g., perciatelli) so for that I used spoon and fork and still had a hard time. My hosts didn't care what I used.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:28 AM
  #10
Ed
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Italians rarely, if ever, use large spoons. However, no one will criticize or look askance if you use that technique. It's really quite easy to twirl without the spoon, though,

Splatters? As Elvira said Italians call what goes with the pasta "condimeni" (condiments) ... the pasta does not swim in sauce, so it's a bit easier to avoid spatters. However, I've seen many well-dressed Italians hook a napkin in their collar nonetheless.

What to do with long pasta? Regardless of how often you twirl you'll have forkfuls that have one or several hanging strands. Place the forkful in your mouth, place the fork under your chin and behind the dangling strands and suck gently, using the fork to keep the danglers from splashing around.

Ed
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:32 AM
  #11
TooOld
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Just don't worry. If you want to use a knife and fork, get cutting! Make a joke of it, and enjoy yourselves. You'll probably find that the Italians/Europeans eat meat with their fork in their left hand, and never put their knife down after cutting it.

Choose gnocchi, or penne, or soup, or some other dish that avoids the problem.

PS: The Queen recently visited Italy, and stipulated NO spaghetti, NO garlic. I'm sure she knows HOW to eat spaghetti - she just didn't want to run the risk of an expensive dry cleaning bill.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 09:41 AM
  #12
Carol
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We were always given a spoon and a fork in Italy, which my husband uses. I always use a knife and fork because that's the way I like it and I am quite sure no one cares either way. Do whatever works for you. Enjoy your trip
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 10:03 AM
  #13
jim
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First, why order spaghetti? You'll be missing out on the wonderful variety of pastas in Italy. Second, the spaghetti-eating spoon is strictly an Anglo invention, but no one in Italy will care if you do use the spoon.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 01:32 PM
  #14
Patrick
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After years of studying this particular eating habit in Italy I have come up with the definitive answer: There is no correct way to eat spaghetti in the USA or in Italy. I have seen local Italians eat spaghetti as many ways as Americans. I do agree however, that I have never seen one use a tablespoon for twirling. My favorite was a whole family chopping their plates of spaghetti with knives and forks until it was practically mush and then eating it. They made so much noise chopping away before eating I thought we were on the railway line. Relax and eat it however you feel comfortable. My personal favorite (particularly near Rome) is bucatini --oversized hollow spaghetti usually with a light but spicy tomato and bacon sauce!! Even harder to eat than regular spaghetti, but oh so delicious.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 01:58 PM
  #15
karen
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I used to teach nursery school in Rome, so I can tell you how silly four-year-olds eat it: insert one end of the spaghetti strand into your mouth. (Just use your fingers to do this.) Push on the end of your nose with your index finger (or, alternately,use both hands to pull down on both ear lobes). Simultaneously suck the spaghetti quickly up into your mouth. Sauce will get into the hair of both you and your neighbor, so I don't recommend this at the business dinner! It gets a laugh every time with the four-year-old set, though. Seriously, I have never seen any Italian use a spoon. Just twirl it with the fork on the side of the plate (it's served in a shallow soup plate, not a flat dinner plate, so you do have a side). I find it's much easier if you just do one or two strands at a time. Enjoy.
 
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Nov 6th, 2000, 05:59 PM
  #16
xxx
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Spaghetti and linguine are the easiest to twirl. the most difficult to eat is any long pasta with a hole running through that's like a long, long thin tube. Perciatelli, I agree is almost impossible to eat efficiently. It just does not bend and twine around like the non-hollow long pasta types. (It's like trying to wind a hose instead of a rope.) While one-hand methods seem to be correct, occasional use of a spoon is not as strange looking as using a knife to cut the stuff.
 
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Nov 7th, 2000, 06:40 AM
  #17
Joanne
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In fact I do not even try to twirl spaghetti any more. Even being very careful, I always seemed to finish up with a speck of tomato on my clothing, So I now use a knife to cut the pasta up into much smaller strips which I can then scoop up. But I fear this will prove very embarrassing among native Italians adding yet again to the "dumb American" image.

 
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Nov 7th, 2000, 07:06 AM
  #18
elaine
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My mother always told me not to order spaghetti on a date or in any public place where I can't wear a tarp. Actually I didn't see spaghetti on any menus in Florence or Venice--I saw the zillions of other forms of pastas, and some dreamy risottos.
I find that my clothes are in more danger usually with salads and their dressings.
I have seen European and some American men turn their ties while eating, with the length of the tie dangling to the side near their shoulders
When I tackle pasta or any drippy food, I think the best advice is to put as little food on the fork as possible, and hope for the best. I do raise my napkin with the other hand sometimes and try to use the napkin as a shield, but I don't tuck in.
Perhaps onne reason why most Europeans have more leisurely meals than Americans, they're concerntrating on eating small bites and trying to avoid stains.

 
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Nov 7th, 2000, 08:19 AM
  #19
Fwhiteside
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Surely the 'correct' way to eat ANYTHING is however you like as long as it doesn't cause offence to others ?
About HRH The Queen I read the other day that she DOES eat spaghetti but insists that each 'strand' is only a few centimetres long. As I've never dined with Her Maj. I cannot verify this......
 
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Nov 9th, 2000, 03:53 PM
  #20
Graziella
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Hi Joanne, ...please do not cut the pasta,....ciao. Graziella.
 
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