Learning to Swirl and Twirl Stringy Spaghetti Strands
It's only partially true that Americans eschewed pasta for so long because they considered it fattening. Many Americans never acquired the spaghetti habit because they couldn’t find a neat way of eating it. They tired of having the sauce end up on their clothes, flung there by errant noodle strings dangling between fork and mouth. Life brings enough embarrassment without willingly putting yourself on the spot, or the spot on you. Of course, if you love pasta but hate eating it in public, you can stick to the smaller, defined shapes that are easier to handle. No wonder corkscrew pasta, the updated version of hot sellers like macaroni and shells, has become popular. But every once in a while a plate of spaghetti beckons. There’s no reason to be intimidated by it. Simply twirl the strands around your fork, resting the tips of the tines on the plate or a large soup spoon for support. This is ever so much more Italian than attempting to cut it into manageable pieces.
Amy Vanderbilt gave the following logistical advice in 1952 in her “Complete Book of Etiquette:” “The spoon is placed in the left hand, assuming the subject is a right-handed person, more or less upright in the plate of spaghetti. The right hand uses the fork with the tip of the prongs against the spoon to wind the spaghetti into a manageable mouthful. It should not drip off the fork. The forkful of spaghetti is then conveyed to the mouth while the spoon remains in the hand and on the plate.” Vanderbilt states further, “As with any sauced dish, it should be eaten without stirring the spaghetti, grated cheese and meatballs (or other garnish) all together, infant style. Remaining sauce on each dish may be eaten with a spoon or sopped up with small bits of bread, which are then eaten with a fork.” And it goes without saying that once you get a portion of the noodles into your mouth that you bite off any trailers. It is not permissible to suck up the ends with a loud slurp. Should you be wondering how all this looks, you may want to practice in front of a mirror. When you can eat spaghetti and sauce without spotting yourself, you’ve passed the pasta-eating test. – By Marilyn Myers, Gannett News Service, 1988
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