By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Cut, Twirl, or Spoon? Fun Etiquette for How to Eat Spaghetti
Spaghetti, my youngest son’s favorite, is something I serve a lot. When I teach corporate etiquette classes and dinners, the question “How do I eat spaghetti without looking like a mess?” always comes up. It’s a popular topic, so here’s your quick-tip guide for eating this carb delight.
I have to admit, it’s not the easiest food to handle graciously. But whether you cut, twirl, or spoon, the etiquette for how to eat spaghetti is actually kind of fun. Until you get the hang of it, though, if you’re at a need-to-impress meal, I’d pass on the spaghetti and stick with ziti or some other more undemanding cut of pasta!
Can I use a spoon to help twirl the pasta with my fork? It depends! If you’re at home, of course! If you’re at a restaurant or someone else’s home, only use a spoon if one is served on the plate with the spaghetti; don’t ask for one. Why? Do you know the comedian Jeff Foxworthy and his famous “You might be a redneck if…” jokes? In some parts of Italy, spoons are fine, and in other parts of Italy, well, “You might be a redneck if you use a spoon to twirl your pasta.” It’s a whole Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy custom. But again, if you’re given a spoon to use, it’s perfectly fine for you to use it!
What do I do if I don’t have a spoon to help twirl the pasta? It’s hard to maneuver, but your goal is to use your fork to separate a few strands from the rest. Then twirl those around your fork, being careful not to have any dangling spaghetti as you put the fork in your mouth.
Can I cut the spaghetti? Technically it’s not correct to do so. Again, you wouldn’t want to do it at a need-to-impress event. At my house, absolutely, cut away! In fact, I always break mine in two before I boil it just to make it easier for my boys to eat.
What about eating the meatball? Cut just one piece of the meatball at a time for each bite; don’t cut the whole thing at once. You can use the side of your fork to cut the meatball if it’s small. For larger meatballs, definitely use your knife and fork. Make sure to pierce the fork well into the meatball; otherwise, it’s liable to roll off the plate, and, following Murphy’s Law, it will land exactly on whatever item it will stain the most!