If you’re looking for the true Italian pasta eating experience, then there are a few tasting and etiquette basics you need to know. Spoon or no spoon? When should you add cheese? What’s the perfect pairing? These tips will help you to eat pasta like an Italian so you can avoid an inadvertent faux-pas in front of your dining company.
Seven Tips to Help You Eat Pasta Like an Italian
Want to look like a pro? Then be sure to follow these seven tips.
Create the Perfect Pairing
Spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine…how do you choose the right pasta and the right sauce? It all comes down to shape.
Long, smooth pastas are best paired with oily sauces, since their shapes will allow the oil to roll off of the pasta, rather than becoming trapped.
For a meat or tomato sauce, where your goal is to capture as much sauce as possible, opt for a wider pasta, like a shell or rigatoni.
Pass the Cheese, Please
When is it proper to add cheese to your sauce, and when should you pass? Generally speaking, if you’re eating a seafood pasta, then cheese is a no-go. It’s a combination that most Italians would find distasteful, and it’s not a traditional pairing in Italy.
Some pastas, like lasagna, incorporate cheese, but generally speaking, go easy on the cheese that you do add on. If you do want to add some cheese to your dish, Parmigiano-Reggiano generally pairs well with a variety of sauces.
Always Eat Pasta Alone
Don’t pair your pasta with a side, like a salad. In Italy, pasta is served as a solo dish and is not paired with anything else. Pasta is usually the main part of a meal, and it’s served alone, followed by other dishes. While pasta is served before other dishes, it’s not considered an appetizer, but instead is the main focus of the meal.
Never Cut or Break Your Pasta
If you’re cooking pasta, don’t break it into pieces in order to fit it in the pot. Pasta, such as angel hair, is designed to be long and thin for a reason. Breaking it in order to cook it is destroying the pasta’s design, and altering the way that you’ll eat it. Instead, use a tall pot full of boiling water and gently swirl the pasta into the pot to soften it and fit the entire length into the water.
If you want to eat pasta like an Italian, then never cut it up with your fork as you dine. Instead, twirl a small bit of spaghetti onto your fork – and only your fork.
No Spoon Twirling
And that brings us to our next point: Don’t use a spoon to twirl your spaghetti onto your fork. It’s customary to set the table with a fork, knife, and spoon, and you can use your spoon to add sauce and cheese, and then to mix the pasta. However, pasta is meant to be eaten with your fork alone – no spoons to assist.
Having a hard time mastering the fork twirling method? Try to work just a few strands of spaghetti onto your fork, then rest the tines against the indentation of the plate or the curve of the bowl. Twirl the fork around and lift it up briefly to keep additional spaghetti from getting wrapped into the mix. Once separated and neatly twirled, eat the pasta.
The one exception is for pastas served in broth or soups. These pastas are smaller pieces, and there’s no twirling required, so eating the soup with a spoon is perfectly acceptable.
Never ever slurp the ends of the pasta into your mouth. This is an amateur move and makes for awkward dining experiences in fine dining atmospheres. Instead, work on perfecting the fork technique above, and make sure that the pasta is tightly wound around your fork before you start to eat it.
Creating Your Perfect Italian Dining Experience
If you want to get the genuine experience of eating pasta like an Italian, then you need to find a restaurant that honors true Italian tradition.
That’s our specialty here at Bottiglia Cucina & Enoteca. We offer sophisticated rustic Italian dishes that are both approachable and traditional. Pair your selection with wine from Napa/Sonoma, Italy, France, and other worldwide locations. We offer quality, delicious pasta dishes and an atmosphere that will have you feeling like you’re dining right in an Italian villa. There’s no better way to dine as an Italian – except, perhaps, getting on a plane and heading to Italy, itself.