The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat spaghetti. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What spaghetti etiquette is

Spaghetti etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat spaghetti. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve spaghetti to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat spaghetti at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat spaghetti

What you should know about spaghetti

Spaghetti are a type of pasta made from durum wheat semolina and water.

Spaghetti are long, thin, and cylindrical in shape, with a smooth surface. They are usually a light golden color when dry, and turn a pale yellow when cooked. The texture of cooked spaghetti is chewy and slightly firm, and they have a neutral, mild flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat spaghetti

1) How to store spaghetti

Spaghetti should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for storing spaghetti is around 60-70°F (15-21°C). Spaghetti can be stored in the pantry for up to a year, in the fridge for up to a week, and in the freezer for up to 8 months. To store spaghetti, keep them in an airtight container or bag.

Sliced or cooked spaghetti should be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To store cooked spaghetti, it should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

2) How to clean spaghetti

There is no need to clean spaghetti before cooking it, as it is processed food. However, you should rinse cooked spaghetti in cold water to remove any excess starch. There are no major risks associated with cleaning spaghetti, and you do not need any special tools to do so.

You can tell if spaghetti has turned bad if it has a strange smell, or if it has become discolored or moldy. In general, spaghetti should be discarded if it has been stored for too long or if it has been exposed to moisture.

3) How to prepare & cook spaghetti

Spaghetti should always be cooked before eating. To prepare spaghetti for cooking, you should bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti, stirring occasionally. Spaghetti can be cooked using a variety of utensils and appliances, but a large pot and a colander are the most common tools used. The most common ways to cook spaghetti are boiling, baking, and sautéing.

Spaghetti is a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes, including spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti carbonara, spaghetti bolognese, and spaghetti aglio e olio. While spaghetti is not typically used in salads or sandwiches, it can be used in a variety of creative ways, such as in soups or casseroles.

Spaghetti is generally suitable for vegan diets. It may be not appropriate for keto and paleo diets. Some people may be allergic to wheat or gluten, which are common ingredients in spaghetti. There are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating spaghetti.

4) How to serve & present spaghetti

Spaghetti is appropriate for both formal and informal occasions and can be served as a main course or a side dish. In Italian etiquette, spaghetti is always a main and never a side dish. The ideal serving temperature for spaghetti is around 140-160°F (60-71°C).

You can serve spaghetti on a variety of plates or bowls, but a deep bowl or plate with a wide rim is best to catch any sauce. The most common serving tool for spaghetti is a fork, although some people may also use a spoon to twirl the pasta. It is not necessary to use any specific serving tools.

You can serve spaghetti with a variety of sauces and seasonings, such as tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. It is also common to serve them with meatballs or seafood. In Italian etiquette, it is inappropriate to serve side dishes with spaghetti.

5) Food and wine to pair spaghetti with

Spaghetti pairs well with tomato-based sauces, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs like basil and parsley. Vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach also complement spaghetti. Fruits like lemon, lime, and tomato can add a nice tang to spaghetti. Avoid pairing them with sweeter fruits like berries or melon.

Spaghetti pairs well with cheese and dairy, such as Parmesan, pecorino, ricotta, and mozzarella. Avoid strong, overpowering cheeses like blue cheese. In Italian etiquette, it is appropriate to pair spaghetti with pork or ground beef. Other meat pairings are uncommon, such as chicken or venison. Avoid strong-tasting meats like game meats, as well as processed meats like hot dogs. Spaghetti can also pair well with fish and seafood, particularly white fish like cod or halibut.

Spaghetti pairs well with a variety of wines, including red wines like Chianti and Cabernet Sauvignon, and white wines like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid sweet wines and heavy, full-bodied wines. Beer and spirits like vodka can also pair well with spaghetti.

6) How to eat spaghetti

The ideal utensil for eating spaghetti is just a fork. Using a spoon can be acceptable but is uncommon in Italian etiquette. Twirl the spaghetti onto the fork and use the spoon to help scoop up any sauce. Eating spaghetti with your fingers is generally not polite.

Spaghetti etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common spaghetti etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Slurping the spaghetti loudly.
  • 7/10. Cutting it with a knife.
  • 6/10. Adding cheese to seafood spaghetti dishes.

Additional information for properly serving spaghetti

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

A serving of spaghetti (2 ounces dry) contains around 200-220 calories. 100 grams of cooked spaghetti contains around 158 calories. One single spaghetti strand contains only a few calories.

How to buy the best spaghetti

A crucial factor in spaghetti etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Spaghetti is available all year round.

Choose the best

Spaghetti can be found in commerce in various forms including fresh, canned, and dried. Dried spaghetti is the most common and readily available form in most grocery stores.

The most popular varieties of spaghetti are spaghetti alla chitarra, spaghettini, spaghettoni, and bucatini. The most prized varieties are often artisanal or imported from Italy.

When buying spaghetti, look for pasta made with 100% durum wheat semolina, which gives the pasta a firm texture and nutty flavor. Avoid pasta made with refined flour or added preservatives. Good quality spaghetti should also be uniform in size and shape and have a slightly rough texture to help the sauce cling to it.

Alternatives to spaghetti

Alternatives to spaghetti include other pasta shapes like penne, linguine, and fettuccine, as well as rice noodles, soba noodles, and vegetable noodles made from zucchini or sweet potato.


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