When in Rome, do like the Romans do…or should we say, when in an Italian restaurant, eat like the Italians eat? Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to eat spaghetti (hint: if you’re cutting it with a knife, you’re doing it wrong!), and it’s best to adapt your style to accommodate the situation.
We’ve created a guide to eating spaghetti in a few different scenarios, to help you look like you know what you’re doing:
Scenario Numero Uno (that means, “#1”): Eating Spaghetti on a First Date
If you have a first date, the perfect place is an Italian restaurant. Why? Because the Italians are a romantic people, and with a few tips, you’ll be able to impress the socks off your date. Especially if your date is Italian, you can’t just go to any Italian place — you need an amazing Italian restaurant, such as Pinocchio’s.
If you’re part of a couple with a taste for the grape, as they say, you can impress your date by ordering a complimentary Italian wine at Pinocchio’s to go with your meals. If you’re both getting a red sauce, you can choose a Sangiovese or Nebbiolo; if you’re getting something with a cream sauce, opt for a Pinot Grigio.
Now, it’s more attractive to be cute when eating spaghetti on a first date, than to be super creepy. The important thing is to make as few noises as possible when enjoying your pasta. You’re going to need to pick the pasta up with your fork and spin it against the large spoon provided for you to condense it into one manageable mouthful. If perchance you should get pasta sauce on your face, dab it off with your napkin whilst batting your eyelashes wildly — it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman — you’ll look cuter that way.
- Get a complimentary wine
- Try not to slurp
- Bat your eyelashes confidently when flecks of food end up on your face
Scenario Numero Due: Visiting Your Future Italian In-Laws for the First Time
If you’ve made it past the initial stages of dating and are going to meet your future Italian in-laws for the first time, good for you! You must have learned something from our guide! But read closely, because eating spaghetti properly in front of your Italian mother-in-law-to-be is both the best and the hardest thing you may ever do. It’s the best, because she’s probably made pasta — other than Pinocchio’s spaghetti, nothing is better than an Italian mother’s pasta and her sauce. It’s the hardest because she’ll be watching you.
Here, the key thing to remember is not even how you’re eating Mamma’s dinner (DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT PICKING UP THAT KNIFE!), but how you react to the dish when you’re eating it. An Italian mother pours all her heart and soul into feeding her family, and her spaghetti is usually the biggest point of her pride.
Be sure to win over your in-laws by gifting them a bottle of nice red wine from their family’s region in Italy. It shows you pay attention. Then, when you sit down and receive your first serving, start dishing out the compliments. Even before you dig in, remark how amazing the spaghetti looks and smells. Now, don’t be shy here. Say it loudly, like you mean it — your sentiment will be heard by everyone and appreciated. It’s going to be so good, anyway, that you shouldn’t contain yourself. The wine should then be poured, and for good cheer, you say, “Salute!” Then, before you start eating, you can wish everyone “Buon appetito!” Start eating when anyone at the table starts eating.
There are three waves of compliments that should ensue:
- After your first bite, put down your utensils and exclaim how amazing the whole dish is, then compliment the sauce. Sauce is a specialty for Italians, and it deserves special attention. 2. After some discussion about other topics, you’re free to interrupt to state again how good the dish is.
- When you’ve cleaned your plate, there’s nothing more complimentary than asking for another serving. In fact, you should plan on taking as many servings as humanly possible, loosening your belt, if need be, and accompanying every new serving with a statement as to why you’re heaping more spaghetti onto your plate (because it’s amazing!).
- Bring a bottle of wine belonging to the region your future in-laws hail from
- Know what and when to compliment
- Eat as much as you possibly can
Scenario Numero Tre: Eating Spaghetti with Your Family and Kids
So, you’ve had kids with the love of your life, and you would like to go out for a nice Italian dinner with the family to a wonderful establishment, like Pinocchio’s. The object of the game is to get your kids to clean their plates without grossing out your significant other or the other restaurant guests.
The first thing you’ll want to do is get yourself a nice glass of red wine (because you should enjoy dinner thoroughly, kids or no). Then, once your family’s spaghetti is served, it’s time to excite your kids about what’s on the table in front of them. Try telling them a story about pasta, such as the time you first tried your Italian mother-in-law’s pasta, and how nervous you were but how good the pasta was. Then, show them how to properly eat spaghetti — to spin spaghetti into a spoon or against their plate — and make a big show out of it (it doesn’t matter if they do it successfully or not). Teach them how to say “Buon appetito!” and then show them how to expertly dab sauce off their faces or their sibling’s faces. When they do something correctly, compliment them with “Molto bene!” which means, “Very good!” Tell them that if they want to say the dish is good, they should say it again with gusto, “molto bene!” Then, teach them to use the bread to soak up the rest of the sauce — your kids will love digging in with their hands.
- Get yourself a glass of wine
- Tell the story of your in-laws
- Teach them how to spin spaghetti
- Get into the Italian language
Enjoying your spaghetti is a fun and delicious cultural experience. When done properly, you can make a lasting impression on anyone. The key is to enjoy a glass of wine, cater your style to your audience, and savor your food. The Italians have a phrase, ‘La bella vita,” which translates as, “The beautiful life.” So remember, when you’re enjoying a spaghetti dish, life couldn’t get any better — especially when your mother-in-law is feeding you.