How do a Eye-talian eat spaghetti?

Well, specifically, I once heard that those spoony things that are sometimes used as a prop against the fork for twirling purposes was an American enhancement to the spaghetti experience. Is twirling, also? Oriental folks have been doing fine for quite a long time with just chopsticks, but I can see how dangling food would offend Victorian sensibilities.

it is perfectly acceptable in Italy,if you have a plate of spaghetti. To bring up a forkful and just bite off the “hangy-downs” and let them drop back into the plate.

Same thing applies in a lot of the Italian homes.

Eat it that way myself------even in restaurants,

When it comes to eating methods it might be offensive to some observers-------but what the heck-------who goes to a restraurant to impress total strangers with their knife-and -fork techniques?

In Italy,however,they’re not too much into american type sauces.

Order spag. on the via venetto and it’ll come to you “buttered” 0r with oil and garlic aka aglio/oglio-----in sicily"alaglio".{sp}

Others may disagree--------but That’s how a once - itinerant irishman saw/sees it.

Pasta was originally eaten by the Italian poor (once semolina flour became cheap and widespread enough for pasta to be available to them at all) with the fingers. There are are hundreds of variations of colored lithographs showing Neapolitan lazzaroni eating spaghetti provided by a street vendor out of their hands.

For a long time, white flour was affordable only by the priviliged, and the nobility saw no reason not to eat pasta with their fingers. As flour got cheaper and noodle vendors appeared in the poorer sections, the educated classes took to eating pasta with utensils. Maintaining class distinctions, y’know.

“Italians claim the fork was invented because noble visitors to the Bourbon court in Naples in the time of Ferdinand II were discomfited by the idea of eating pasta with their fingers.”
– “Mangiamaccheroni,” from OUTLAW COOK by John Thorne, c. 1992 by North Point Press

But…that still doesn’t really answer the OP. If you’re sitting in a restaurant in an Italian town and you twirl your spaghetti-with-red-sauce-on-it against your spoon, will you look irredeemably stupid? Will the folks sitting at the next table roll their eyes and mutter in Italian, “Ah, those idiot Americans, they watch too much TV…”, while they continue slurping it up in a most authentic fashion and get red sauce all over their chins?

Because I always wondered, too.

Someone change the title of this thread. I find it as offensive as if someone started a thread called “How Do Niggers Eat Watermelon?”

My wife and I spent a week in Italy, almost exactly one year ago. We rented a car and drove to Assisi. We ate where the local people did and the few times we got spaghetti, we were given the proper spoon.

The interesting thing I noticed was that the Italians varied the hand in which they handled the fork. If they were eating meat they held the fork in their left hand. However, if they were eating spaghetti they held the fork in their right hand (I didn’t see any left handed Italians, whom I assume would not make the switch). Another interesting thing is that salad comes after the entree, which goes to show Olive Garden isn’t as Italian as you may think.

Are you kidding? “Eye-talian” is a common, if incorrect, pronunciation. It is in no way on a par with n*gger. And Italians eating spaghetti is not a racist stereotype but a fact.

During WW11 all of the forces from England and all portions of the British Empire referred to the Italians as “EYE-TIES”.

As a US Marine attached to the N.Z. Eighth brigade I heard many an EYE TIE story that they’d brought back from North Africa and the middle east.

Was it derogatory?

Not any more than Brit-Yank-Frog-Limey-Jap or Kraut.

Like all soldier talk it was colorful----and it left no doubt as to who it was that was beng talked about.

'course there are some who have to add a twist to anything!

In Europe, one cuts meat with the right hand, fork in the left hand, AND THEN JUST EATS THE MEAT WITH THE HAND (left) THE FORK IS ALREADY IN. Most Americans have the habit of cutting the meat the same as Europeans, and then switching the fork to the right hand to eat the meat. You have merely observed “Continental” utensil use in action. They eat the spaghetti with the fork in their right hand because they aren’t using a knife. I 'm American, but think this fork-switching to the right hand is just goofy. WHY AND HOW DID THIS SWITCHING THE FORK HAND EVOLVE???:confused:

Never been to Italy, but i’ve spent some time in New York. In the Mulberry Street area. Close enough, I’d say. :wink:
Anyhow, I did eat in a lot of Italian restaraunts, and a few homes. I ate quite a lot of spaghetti (macaroni)*, usually sauced with a marinara-type sauce. And usually as a side dish. Most of the time they, and I, twirled it on a fork.
Spear some with your fork (right hand), lift high to separate the forkful from the mass, lower almost to the plate, and spin the spag laden fork in the spoon while holding the fork at an angle, handle up. You wind up with a nice ball of pasta on the end of your fork. Tilt the handle down and eat. Take a bite of bread and a sip of Chianti. Talk very loudly.
*The folks I hung out with called most pasta “Macaroni”.

Being part goomba myself, I can tell you that you have the choice to use the spoon or not. Using it is a little bit fancy shmancy, your friends might laugh at you when eating at home, but much less so if you are sitting in a real cloth tablecloth type restaurant, where they make you wear a tie. My mother and father in law, who come from paisan stock, don’t use the spoon.

Actually, chula, out here, that word is exactly on par with the “n” word.

Cite? Actually, you mean that pronunciation, since it is the same word as “Italian”.

Hmmm. It’s beginning to sound like people from certain areas had best not travel through the Midwest. I can see big trouble when a waitress asks, in all innocence, if you want eye-talian dressing on your salad. It’s just the way folks in some regions pronounce “Italian”–not unlike some folks pronouncing Illinois as “Illinoyze.” I’m finding it rather hard to believe that it’s considered offensive, much less anywhere up there with the “N” word.

My mom taught me to twirl spaghetti on the plate. I always figured a spoon was a crutch for those who hadn’t properly developed their twirling skills. And I thought those who didn’t twirl at all were socially deprived, having missed out on an important life lesson from negligent parents. Reading this thread, I now know better (intellectually), but I still feel a bit sorry for folks who can’t twirl.

Pronouncing “Italian” with a long I is considered derogatory in many areas. I don’t know if it’s on par with the “nigger/watermelon” comment, but it’s commonly used in an offensive manner. As for a citation, I always thought it was common knowledge…at least in the North East. shrugs

So does that mean if you say, “neeger”, you’re not offending anybody? :slight_smile:

I would personally love to see a cite where somebody was offended by being called Eye-talian, instead of It-alian. I think it’s quite amusing that somebody would be offended over a pronounciation.

This is America, the melting pot of the world. People pronounce words in different ways. Get over it.

(Don’t even get me started on the pronounciation of “gyro” :wink: )

Knowing that Mjollnir is a fun person, when I saw the thread title I simply assumed the presence of “goofing around with thread titles on a Sunday afternoon”.

“Eye-talian” is how you pronounce it when you’re goofing around, at least where I come from, but it’s not racist, IMO. It’s roughly comparable to referring to “Frenchies”, which I don’t think is derogatory, either. It’s a joke.
(How DO you pronounce “gyro”? You MUST tell me, you alone have the secret information that will enable me to sleep at night. Tell, tell…)

Yep. It’s something Archie Bunker would say. Also “Ay-rab”. “Offensive manner” as the Captai…err… Chief Crunch said.

No, this is international publication.


As far as I can recall, there have only been two world wars ;). Otherwise I’d say you’re right that the mispronunciation if Italian is not usually intended as an insult. However, as with all these things, you should be guided by the feelings of the person on the receiving end.

I’m with Gary T on the spaghetti-twirling thing - I use the side of my plate, not a spoon. It’s also true that in Europe the fork is generally held in the left hand throughout the meal - if you’re also using a knife. My dad told me a story of being in a restaurant one time (in the '50s I think) and he gradually became aware that some Americans at the next table were staring a little. They explained that they were fascinated by the way he used his cultery.