To Twirl, or Not To Twirl
The age old question that has been debated among Italians and pasta-lovers everywhere—to twirl or not to twirl?
You may have heard the only and correct way to eat spaghetti is to twirl it in the base of a spoon. However, in Italy, while it’s customary to have a spoon at each place setting, it’s not for twirling assistance. Pasta is placed in a bowl or on a plate, then sauce is spooned over the top, and cheese, if requested, is sprinkled. The fork and spoon are used to toss it all together, then the spoon is set aside and you use your fork alone to twirl. Italians think of a spoon like training wheels and the general consensus is that the use of a fork plus a spoon for eating pasta is for children or amateurs.
The one exception is for pastas served in broth or soups. These pastas are smaller pieces, and there’s no twirling required, so eating the soup with a spoon is perfectly acceptable.
Mastering the Fork Twirling Method
Twirling is truly an art form. Snag just a few strands of spaghetti, let the tines of the fork rest against the curve of the bowl or plate, and twirl the fork (clockwise), giving a few quick and brief lifts to prevent excess pasta from catching on. Too much can be disastrous to you, your plate, and white clothing.
Plating a Picture-Perfect Pasta Dish
Have you ever wondered how restaurant chefs get that perfect tower of noodles? All you need is two simple tools that can probably be found in your kitchen drawer. This is where you might be surprised to find out you do indeed use a spoon, a much larger spoon. All you need is a ladle and a pair of tongs, or a meat-carving fork.
When your pasta is ready, pick up a portion of it with the tongs or carving fork, then anchor it in a ladle. Twirl, twirl, and twirl until the pasta is coiled into a neat little nest. Move the ladle to the plate, keeping the fork still. Gently nudge the nest of pasta out of the ladle, and slowly remove the fork. What you’re left with is a beautifully coiled serving of pasta that will stay exactly where you put it. It's an impressive and fun way to to showcase your delicious creations to friends and family on your next pasta night.
For shorter pasta cuts, like rigatoni, place a cookie cutter on your plate, add the pasta and remove the cookie cutter when you’re ready to serve.
Pro-Tips and Tricks
If you’re really committed to plating your pasta with some serious height, add a little extra cheese to the pasta sauce and make sure you plate it when it’s hot. That cheese will act like a (delicious!) glue and keep it all held together.
If your dish has seafood in it, skip the cheese! When you envision a fresh plate of pasta with shrimp, salmon, or scallops, it's hard not to think of grating cheese all over it—but doing so isn't authentically Italian. Instead, if the dish has fish or seafood, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the pasta. Bonus points if you sauté the breadcrumbs in olive oil before.
Skip the bowl! Authentic Italian pastas are served on a plate not a bowl. Bowls are for packing in lots of bulk, but since the portion sizes are smaller in Italy, it's more appropriate to serve pasta on a plate.
Everything you Need to Know
Invite your friends and family over and wow them with an authentic Italian dinner. Skip the stress and find everything you need to need to know to host your next Italian dinner party here.