How to Eat Spaghetti

Three Methods:Using Just a ForkUsing a Fork and SpoonEating Spaghetti Like a True Italian

Spaghetti — the long, skinny Italian noodles most famously served with red sauce — is one of the most well-known dishes on the planet. However, this popularity doesn't mean it's easy to eat! If you're tired of stains on your shirts, learn our quick, easy tricks for eating spaghetti to start tackling this meal like un campione. You'll also learn a few advanced spaghetti etiquette tips in case you find yourself dining in the company of Italians.

Method 1
Using Just a Fork

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    Take your fork in your dominant hand. Spaghetti can be eaten with nothing more than a single fork (in fact, this is how the Italians do it).[1] Almost any standard-sized dinner fork will work.
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    Catch a few strands of spaghetti in your fork. Lift your fork and, with a scooping motion, gather a small number of strands between the tines of the fork. Point the fork sideways to keep the strands from falling out. Give the fork a quick (but gentle) jerk upward to separate these strands from the rest.
    • You really only need a few strands of spaghetti here. Two, three, or four strands may not look like much, but it will give you a good bite of pasta once it's wound up.
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    Point your fork into the side of your plate. Now, with the spaghetti strands still in the fork, gently press its points into a flat part of the plate or bowl. A curved lip at the edge of a plate or the sloped side of a bowl will work well, but any smooth, flat part will work.
    • The main thing you're trying to do here is separate the strands in your fork from the rest of the spaghetti.
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    Turn the fork to "wind up" the spaghetti. Now, use your fingers to twist the fork around and around in circles. The spaghetti strands caught in the tines will start wrapping around the fork and form a bundle. Keep winding until you have a tight, tidy little bundle of wrapped-up spaghetti.
    • If you notice other strands stuck to your spaghetti, jerk the fork upward and bounce it up and down a few times to separate it. The bundle should stay (mostly) on the fork.
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    Lift the bundle into your mouth. Now, carefully move the fork up to your mouth. Put the entire bundle in at once. Chew, swallow, and repeat!
    • If the bundle is too big, start over with fewer strands of spaghetti. Bundles that are too big are a recipe for spills and messy sauce drips.

Method 2
Using a Fork and Spoon

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    Take the fork in your dominant hand and the spoon in your other. For some, the "only" way to eat spaghetti is with a fork and spoon. If you want to do this, use a standard dinner fork and a spoon that's a little wider and flatter than you'd normally use for other foods. If you don't have one, a standard spoon is fine.
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    Catch a few strands of spaghetti in your fork. This is exactly like if you were just using a fork. Again, you don't want too many strands — this will make for a sloppy, unwieldy bundle of spaghetti.
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    Lift the spaghetti up to separate it from the rest. When you're working with a spoon, you do most of your maneuvering off of the plate. Use an up-and-down bouncing motion to separate your three or four strands from the rest of the pasta. Keep the fork pointed to the side or upward so the spaghetti strands don't slip off.
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    Press the fork into your spoon. Hold the spoon sideways so its inward curve is facing the fork. Press the tips of the fork gently into the curve of the spoon. Lift them, together, away from the rest of the spaghetti, but keep them over the plate to avoid spills.
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    Wind the fork. Keeping the fork sideways, start turning it against the spoon. The spaghetti should climb upwards and get wrapped around the fork. Keep wrapping until you have a tight bundle.
    • As you do this, use the spoon as a "surface" to wind the fork against. It's basically serving the same purpose as your plate normally would.
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    Eat the bundle of spaghetti. Set the spoon down. Move the fork up to your mouth — just like you would if you were eating the spaghetti with a fork alone.

Method 3
Eating Spaghetti Like a True Italian

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    Don't use a spoon. Above, we've explained how to use a spoon to eat pasta. Though there's nothing "wrong" with doing this, it's not something Italians usually do.[2] This can be considered a little "clumsy" or "childish," like using chopsticks to spear food and put it into your mouth.
    • However, it is common to use a fork with a spoon to serve pasta and toss it with sauce.[3]
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    Don't cut spaghetti into smaller pieces. Traditionally, spaghetti isn't cut or broken at any time while it's cooked or eaten.[4] This means that you shouldn't break the spaghetti in half before you cook it in boiling water and that you shouldn't use your fork to cut spaghetti strands on your plate.[5]
    • If you find your spaghetti bundles too large, don't cut your spaghetti — just use fewer strands.
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    Don't plunge your fork into the middle of the spaghetti. This doesn't just look silly — it makes spaghetti awfully hard to eat. Digging right into the center of your spaghetti before you start winding your fork will leave you with an enormous, unwieldy bundle that will be very hard to get to your mouth without spills.
    • Avoiding this is simple. Just use your fork to gather a few strands at a time and separate them from the rest of the spaghetti before winding.
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    Keep your eating clean, tidy, and dignified. To Italians, pasta isn't something you shovel into your mouth to satisfy your hunger. It's a dignified dish meant to be cooked properly, cherished, and savored. Use the following tips to eat your spaghetti respectfully:
    • Don't slurp strands of spaghetti into your mouth "Lady and the Tramp"-style. Instead, put small, tiny bundles in your mouth.
    • Don't pile food onto your plate next to your pasta. Pasta is best enjoyed by itself as a primo piatto (first course).
    • Eat slowly to avoid spills and drips, but don't lose your head if you make a mistake. It happens to everyone.


  • Italians have certain common-sense rules for which sauces to pair with various pastas. For spaghetti, you'll generally want smoother sauces that can coat the long strands, not chunkier sauces with lots of meat and vegetables. A brief guide to more pasta sauce pairings is available here.[6]
  • If you're eating your pasta with meatballs, you can use your fork to break them into smaller bite-sized pieces if they are large. If they're small, you can eat them without cutting them.[7]
  • Don't be afraid to use a bib or a napkin on your shirt if you're struggling with spaghetti. The minor embarrassment is definitely worth avoiding stubborn stains!

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Categories: Eating Techniques