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Pasta Etiquette: How to Eat Spaghetti

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

While dining at a restaurant, my spaghetti dish arrived with a large spoon. I didn't use the spoon. Do I need to use it? Should I cut the spaghetti? What is the proper way to eat pasta?


Proper Pasta

Dear Proper Pasta,

You don't have to use the spoon. But, it might be easier to roll the spaghetti onto your fork using the spoon. Pick up a few strands of spaghetti with your fork, then twirl the fork into the spoon while gradually turning the spoon so that it is facing sideways (not flat) and the fork is at a 90-degree angle to the spoon.

If not using the spoon, then keep the fork tip in contact with curve of the plate while twirling the spaghetti. Because the fork angle is facing downward instead of sideways, the strand ends may not completely wrap onto the fork.

An informative video on twirling spaghetti with a spoon can be found at:

You wouldn't think that there would be a controversy about how to eat spaghetti. But, some are of the opinion that a spoon should not be used. Three chefs of well known Italian restaurants felt that "spoons are for children, amateurs and people with bad table manners in general" (Claiborne: The New York Times, 1982). The chefs pointed out that spoons were placed with pasta to help toss the pasta with sauce and cheese. However, one chef stated that if the sauce was very liquid, then a spoon might be used in order to not splatter.

Claiborne's same article mentions that Emily Post states eating pasta with a fork and spoon is proper.

Slurping pasta is the only method that is never proper.