Etiquette Tip: Settling the spaghetti spoon issue

Standard

Spaghetti on fork with meatballs and tomato sauceNormally, you would stay away from spaghetti in a business meal and opt for something less messy — a smaller noodle like macaroni or penne. But sometimes, a little spaghetti into our business or social lives must fall. That said, we are finally going to settle this spaghetti and spoon thing once and for all. The etiquette authorities are divided, so I will quote them directly:

No Spoon:
Letitia Baldrige: Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for New Times, 2003
“If you are a purist about eating spaghetti, linguine, or any other long, thin noodles, you will not use a spoon as a support. You will go it alone with the fork. The secret is in twining just a small number of strands around your fork (four or five.) Keep turning your fork around slowly until all the strands are rolled compactly around it and you’re ready to put it into your mouth.”

Judith Martin: Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, 2005
“A fork is the only utensil that may be used to eat spaghetti while anyone is looking. It must make do with whatever cooperation it may muster from the plate and the teeth. The fork is planted on the plate and the spaghetti is then twirled around the tines of the fork. If you can manage to use the grated cheese to add grit to the mixture for better control, so much the better. The twirled forkful is then presented to the mouth.”

Maria Everding, Panache That Pays, 2007
“Wind a few strands at a time, around a dinner fork, and lift to your mouth. Using a tablespoon and fork is archaic. Do not cut pasta.”

Pro-spoon:
Elizabeth Post, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 1992
“The fork is used to spear a few strands of spaghetti, the tips are placed against the bowl of the spoon, which is held in the left hand and the fork is twirled, wrapping the spaghetti around itself as it turns. If no spoon is provided, the tips of the fork may be rested against the curve of the plate.”

Amy Vanderbilt, Complete Book of Etiquette, 1954
“The aficionado knows that the only graceful and satisfying way to eat real Italian spaghetti (which comes in full-length or perhaps half length rounds) is to eat it with a large soup spoon and a fork.”

Marjabelle Young (Stewart), White Gloves and Party Manners, 1967
“Spaghetti is quieter and less messy if you wind it around a dinner fork held against a large spoon.”

Pro-… uh, wait a minute:
Suzanne von Drachnenfels, The Art of the Table, 2008
“As a base to steady the fork while the noodles are wound, sometimes a spoon is held in one hand, a technique frowned upon in Italy.”

Life is about choices and next time you have spaghetti, you will have to take a side.

Thanks to the Culture and Manners Institute for the tips!

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