Each year, hordes of tourists from the United States visit Italy. They trek from Venice to Rome to Florence and many other locales throughout the Italian peninsula. Along the way, they usually fall in love with the country–its people, its vino, and its pasta.
Even before leaving home, most are aware of the fact that pasta is a mainstay of the Italian diet. People in that country eat it every day, without fail. However, there’s never a possibility of them becoming bored wtih it–which they usually eat as a preliminary dish before eating a main course–because of the wide variety of pasta available. What’s more, there’s an accompany wide variety of sauces in which the pasta can be served.
Pasta comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are tortellini , for example, which are round, bite-sized pieces of pasta which are filled with meat or cheese or some combination of the two. Tortelloni are just a larger version of tortellini . (In fact, the suffix – ino means small, little in Italian, while the suffix – one indicates just the opposite, big . Since the plural of – ino is – ini , and the plural of – one is – oni , there’s tortell ini and tortell oni . )
Another type of pasta is penne , which are short (about an inch long), hollow pieces of pasta. Rigatoni are larger, broader, hollow pieces of pasta. Then, of course, there’s lasagne , which are broad, flat pieces of pasta which are layered upon each other, and baked, with a filling of either meat, vegetable, cheese or some combination of the three.
Lasagne are very popular. However, spaghetti rates as the best known pasta to people from the United States. It’s a long, thin pasta. Its cousins are linguini and vermicelli . And most visitors to Italy have very probably eaten spaghetti at home before they ever set foot in Italy.
However, once they’re in that country, they may find that they’re novices when it comes to eating spaghetti and tagliatelle properly. ( Tagliatelle are long pieces of pasta, but they are much broader than spaghetti.) What an experience it is for them to see how Italians easily manage to get and keep those long strands of pasta on their fork and then successfully transfer the pasta to their mouth.
While viistors often become frustrated, when the long pasta falls off their fork over and over again, the Italians are busy eating their meal, laughing and talking all the while. What astute observers will come to realize is that there’s a trick to eating spaghetti and tagliatelle .
Here’s what they should do (and it’s what the Italians actually do)–
1) from the center of the pile of pasta, lift three or four strands of the pasta into the air with their fork
2) when those strands are free of the rest of the pasta, place the end of the fork’s tines next to the edge of the bowl
3) if the pasta is not in a bowl, but on a flat plate (which shouldn’t be the case), then use a tablespoon instead of the edge of a bowl (holding the spoon in their left hand, while holding the fork with the pasta in the right hand)
4) pressing the end of the fork tines into the edge of the bowl (or into the tablespoon), twirl the fork clockwise until all of the pasta is wound around the fork, then
5) life the fork to their mouth and eat the pasta.
That’s the trick. And it works every time. It may take some practice for visitors to get the hang of it, but after awhile, they should be able to twirl that pasta with the best of ’em.
There’s nothing like coming home from a trip to Italy and being able to show off an ability to eat pasta all’italiana!