Many foreigners often ask questions about the best way to cook pasta, and I explained it well at the link, but today we focus on how it is more correct to eat pasta. Especially one of the most common doubts concerns the cutlery with which to eat spaghetti.
In fact, the iconic dish of Italian cuisine, spaghetti, is sometimes served in restaurants with a fork and spoon, and this is where the question arises: do Italians use a fork or a spoon to eat spaghetti? Or do they use a fork and spoon together?
Like any question about Italian cuisine, the answer is simple but does not always get everyone to agree, now I will answer it but then I will explain better why to this day not everyone agrees.
According to etiquette any kind of long type pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine, should be eaten with only a fork. So no help with a spoon, which is instead dedicated to soups, and specifically no knife. Spaghetti should be twirled with the fork until you get a small group twisted around the fork and then you can bring it to your mouth to eat it.
But why is it still possible today in Italy and abroad to see someone eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon?
Why does someone eat spaghetti by helping themselves with a spoon to twirl it up?
If you happened to see someone eating spaghetti with a spoon and fork, you probably noticed that they use the spoon as a supporting surface and the fork to twirl the spaghetti over the spoon, holding the spoon with their left hand and the fork with their right hand.
This technique in the past was popular as a maneuver for eating spaghetti without getting dirty, until a few generations ago it was even popular in Naples as a sign of elegance and nobility.
But today it is considered not only an amateur mistake but a real desecration. In fact, according to etiquette, a fork and spoon should never be used together.
When can you use a spoon to eat spaghetti?
Many foreigners may think that we Italians are born gifted with the ability to perfectly twirl spaghetti around a fork, but unfortunately, this is not the case, I can assure you that getting a small child who does not yet know how to use a fork well to eat spaghetti is quite complicated.
So young children are allowed to cut the spaghetti into small pieces on the plate and then eat it with a spoon, to encourage chewing and avoid as much as possible staining themselves with tomato splashes.
But beware, this applies only to children, not adults!
Eating spaghetti like a true Italian
First of all, it is best to repeat that spaghetti should be eaten exclusively with a fork, without help from either a knife or a spoon (which should be used only for soups and stews).
The fork should be slightly inclined to the plate and never used vertically. Simply grasp a few spaghetti at a time (about 2-3), twirl them clockwise, and bring a perfect skein to your mouth, with no dangling spaghetti if possible.
This is the technique most Italians use, but if we want to talk about good manners again there are other rules you might be interested in below.
5 etiquette rules for eating spaghetti.
1. Never help yourself with your hands
Eating with your hands is a typical practice in cultures such as India, in which case it would be absolutely correct not to use cutlery. For us Italians, however, it is different, especially with spaghetti. It is absolutely forbidden to use your hands to eat it. Read here to find out what we eat with our hands here in Italy.
2. Hold your head high
Fear of getting dirty often provokes eating hunched over the plate. It is best to avoid bringing our faces close to the plate of spaghetti! It is always only the fork that approaches the mouth and not vice versa.
3. The spoon is only for soups
Forbid using the spoon in an attempt to form a perfect twirl of spaghetti. A good rule would have the fork, tilted and never vertical to the plate, intercept 2 or 3 spaghetti and then roll them clockwise to form a perfect skein to bring to the mouth.
4. Cut the spaghetti? Only in this case.
There is only one possibility in which it is acceptable to cut spaghetti: if the person eating it is a boy or girl who has not yet perfectly mastered the fork. Sorry to disappoint you, but above the age of 4 or 5 it is no longer allowed!
5. Do not serve them on a flat plate
Remember that spaghetti is the first course in Italy, which is why it is always (almost always) served on bowl plates, never on a flat plate. In addition, a bowl is also useful for containing spaghetti and keeping the sauce concentrated on them.
Some Italian restaurants are frequented by tourists who often request a spoon to eat spaghetti, believing that this is the correct method. Many restaurateurs go to great lengths to please their customers, even having them find a spoon for spaghetti ready to use when they order long pasta, even though an Italian will never use a spoon to eat spaghetti.
Do real Italians use a spoon with pasta?
No, the tradition of using a spoon to eat spaghetti disappeared a long time ago. If you eat in a restaurant in Italy you will easily notice that every Italian eats spaghetti using only a fork and no other cutlery.
It is possible to see eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon in some old movies such as Brooklyn, in which a typical Italian-American family eats spaghetti with a fork and spoon. But this tradition is due to the simple fact that if you don’t know how to use a fork, the spoon can help you make spaghetti twirl, even though according to etiquette only the fork should be used.
The spoon should be used at the table only if brothy dishes such as soups or stews are served. There are some exceptions to using the spoon with pasta if it is prepared with broth, such as pasta soups or tortellini in broth, where the liquid part of the dish exceeds the solid part of the pasta.