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Italian Question

I am Italian and when I was a kid visiting my family in Italy, I was taught to eat long shaped pasta with a fork and a large spoon, so as to grab the spagetti with your fork and roll the pasta in the spoon for maximum efficiency. I have always lived by it, and even in places like Babbo in NY, the practice seem to be commonplace. However, I notice it's not done in Los Angeles, even at the best of Italian restaurants. My question is this: Is eating spaghetti, linguine, fettucini, etc. with a fork and SPOON against etiquitte? I've always insisted that using the large spoon for long pasta is the Italian way because of my family in southern and even northern italy, but I could be wrong. This could be just a small town italian thing. I'm out to lose a bet here, any thoughts? Any Italians out there who can relate to my spoon necessity.

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  1. Third generation Sicilian and we eat it with a spoon and fork. I find that some restaurants in LA either provide a spoon when the pasta is served or more frequently inquire if I want a spoon. Otherwise, I ask for one. I LOVE eating pasta this way. I think it reminds me of my childhood and the pasta tastes better to me.

    1. This post will probably get moved to general food topics, but I would say you are not out of place eating pasta with a fork swirled in a spoon, although I've more commonly seen it swirled on a fork against the plate directly. It could be that people in LA don't know how to properly eat pasta. I myself, who grew up here, was taught to CUT my spaghetti as a kid -- it wasn't until I went to NYC and Italy itself that I learned to swirl the spaghetti around the fork on the plate (or against a spoon), as an alternative to cutting the pasta.

      1. ??

        I spent a couple years in the North of Italy in the Lakes region. I was taught there that while in the US it's common to use a spoon that it was not done in Italy. During the time I was there I was never offered one nor saw a table set with one for pasta.

        I grew up in Los Angeles however and do remember seeing spoons being used at neighborhood red sauce Italian restaurants. I moved away before I could afford any of the higher end restaurants in the city so don't know what the norm there is.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ziggylu

          I learned this as a 14 years old in Pacentro, Italy, which is a small town in Abruzzo just a few minutes outside Sulmona. The best carbonara I have had in my life was served and they were truly offended if you tried to eat it without a spoon. Maybe it's just a question of family tradition if you had that experience in the north.

        2. Here's some Italians who have replied to a thread regarding the aforementioned topic...

          'Secondo il galateo è corretto mangiare gli spaghetti con forchetta e cucchiaio?'

          The consensus is a resounding ... YES! ...it is AGAINST etiquette (galateo) to use a spoon.

          Linko: http://it.answers.yahoo.com/question/...

          I use a fork and spoon to eat long stringy pasta. So there. I've broken a rule of "galateo". Personally, I think it looks less beastly that way, than to hover over a dish with just a fork in one's hands. I suppose it's fine if you're wearing an animal skin.

          1. Swirling the spaghetti onto the fork is intended to round-up those long noodles so that they don’t dangle down from the fork and go flip-fam-floom all over your face and shirt/blouse. I recall eating at Vinces out in Onterio and in Torrance when I moved there. A big spoon was provided with the order of Spaghetti. A Spaghetti bib would also quickly be provided upon request.

            Below is a link to some junk by Anna Maria saying that using a spoon is “bad form.” I guess she would not approve of my bib either. Anna fails to mention that splattered spaghetti sauce all over my white shirt and tie is Waaaaay UnCool and that is worst than “bad form” – it shows that I am a slob.

            But times they are a-changin'. In the SGV here in L.A. I have noticed some Asian Americans forgoing any attempt to swirl the spaghetti “noodles”onto the fork whatsoever. I have seen some good people simply tilting the head directly over the plate and using the fork to gracefully shovel the spaghetti into the mouth and then eat it ramen style. That seems to me to be the best way to keep your shirt clean and to really enjoy your Spaghetti. Now, can you guess why I get my Spaghetti to go?

            Vince's Spaghetti
            1206 W Holt Blvd
            Ontario, CA 91762
            (909) 986-7074




            How to eat Ramen

            1 Reply
            1. re: JeetJet

              Very Funny! It reminded me that when we were kids (9 of us) we went to Grandma's house on Sundays after church for big Italian dinners and my mother would make us eat in our undershirts and slips.

            2. interesting...I always thought it was bad etiquette, as my american born Dad does use a spoon(and uses a spoon to eat almost anything) but my grandparents and older Italian relatives do not. sometimes the pasta requires that, maybe it depends on the pasta?

              1. My family is from Naples and we always eat long pasta with a fork and spoon.

                1. My thoroughly Italian family is from the Abruzzo region and Trieste... I am second generation Italo-America. No spoon, just a fork.... with only a few stands of spaghetti swirled onto the tines... not a huge mouthful.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gio

                    I agree with you. One can certainly use a spoon if that is one's preference, but it is unnecessary. It's just as easy to twirl the fork against the side of the plate. My boyfriend's family are Italian and I have never seen any of them use a spoon, nor is it the norm in higher-end Italian restaurants. I only see people eating spaghetti like this is casual neighborhood places.

                  2. Just to add to the confusion, many Italian immigrants who came to America were anxious to become like "real Americans" and dropped anything that they didn't see being done. Of course, some were just the opposite. The first type would probably drop that spoon when they saw it not being done. It may be not believable, but some or that may have trickled back to the "Old Country." I doubt that there is really any proper etiquette involved, unless we make some.

                    Gio - thanks for Ed Giobbi. I got both of them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yayadave

                      You're welcome, Dave. I hope you enjoy his recipes as much as I do!

                      As for the 'etiquette' of the fork and spoon use with spaghetti is concerned, I have seen it used in this country, and do not consider it a breach of any kind. Some people do and some don't as with anything else. However, as I said, it was not done in my family and extensions thereof.

                    2. only fair for a jewish vote from an italian neighborhood. Gotta use a spoon and long pasta. every italian friend's hous i went to growing up did it, all the italian restos did it and therefore jfood did it.

                      1. This is an interesting question, and I was thinking along the lines of yayadave, about immigrant attempts to 'fit in', and perhaps those practices filtering back to the old country. My experience: while I'm not Italian, there was a significant Friulan influence in my childhood, and there was no spoon at the table. Granted, Friuli is not the hotbed of pasta (pass the polenta!), but no spoon. As a posting in the yahoo link indicated, a few noodles pinned with the fork and twirrled against the bottom of the bowl was the basic method. Jeez, I miss that ragu....

                        1. My family is from northern Italy and we were never given a spoon. But my grandmother's pasta was not anything like what is eaten in the US. It was drier, not very saucy, just enough to coat the pasta and give it flavor. There wouldn't be anything to drip. Other families from the same area made their pasta the same way. No drippy sauces.

                          1. Born in Brooklyn to parents from Calabria and Naples...the spoon was optional, mainly because we ALWAYS had a piece of Italian bread in the other hand. It not only helped getting the twirling of the long pastas but got plenty of sauce on the bread which was great. Still use either. To each his own. Enjoy!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PeteDelfino

                              Always a spoon to twirl the macaroni in and bread to sop up the gravy, if any was left.

                            2. I had never seen a spoon served with my pasta growing up. We aren't Italian, but we ate at many Italian places. I lived all over the place, mostly Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Illinois and then back to Texas.

                              About 10 years ago I went to an Italian place with a friend from South Africa. They served our pasta with a spoon, which I promptly put off to the side. She broke out laughing and asked why wasn't I using the spoon. I explained I didn't know what it was for which made her laugh harder, then she explained how to use it to eat your pasta, all the while making me feel like I had the most horrendous manners ever, and she spoke very slowly as if I was a child. I suffered through that meal, trying to wield a fork and a spoon, making a total mess, and never ate with her again. Now I do as I did before - use bread!