How to eat pasta? You mean there are rules? Assolutamente! Absolutely!
Tommaso Pante, native Sicilian, licensed tour guide, and owner of Sunway, is adamant on the proper way to eat the pasta that is lovingly cooked by sisters, wives, mothers, and “Nonnas” for family dinners.
“It’s one of the first things we learn, sitting on our mother’s lap,” Tommaso explains. Actually, that’s just the initial etiquette lesson; children are given the kid-friendly version of Galateo, written in 1558, when Italy was the Renaissance Capital and therefore in charge of all things involving propriety and politesse. This was serious stuff. And still is.
First, the pasta must be cooked perfectly
Back to the pasta…it all starts with cooking.Sicilians deduct two minutes from suggested boiling times. They like their pasta Firm, with a capital F. Otherwise, it’s too soft and mushy. No self-respecting Sicilian will touch anything but perfection…life is too short for bad pasta.
How to eat pasta: Step-by-step directions
- ONLY A FORK! Forget the Italian chain restaurants that think it’s “authentic” to provide a spoon with your order of spaghetti. Using a spoon to help guide the pasta strands is considered unrefined or backwards, akin to eating peas with a knife. It’s also rude.
- Speaking of knives, NEVER cut the pasta. “You’re killing it if you cut it,” declares Tommaso. No one–not even a child–cuts pasta. No matter the length, every type of pasta is cooked and eaten as it is.
- Take 4-5 strands of spaghetti and move them to the side of your plate. Twirl the strands around your fork and eat. No giant globs of spaghetti or huge mouthfuls.
“Eating properly is sacred,” says Tommaso. Meals are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Good manners are important!
You probably won’t be surprised to learn there are rules for eating gelato, too. Read my article for Europe Up Close: How to Order Gelato in Italy
Then there is napkin etiquette, too. In many European countries, these things matter.