spaghetti: see pasta.

Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical pasta of Italian origin. A variety of pasta dishes are based on it, from spaghetti with cheese and pepper or garlic and oil to a spaghetti with tomato, meat, and other sauces. Spaghetti is made of semolina and water.


Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning "thin string" or "twine". The word spaghetti can be literally translated as "little strings".


Chinese noodles pre-date Italian pasta, and Arab traders probably became introduced to them due to their trade routes with China. Historically, people in Italy ate pasta in the form of gnocchi-like dumplingspasta fresca eaten as soon as it was prepared. It has now been asserted that the Muslims who populated Southern Italy (around the 12th Century) were the first to develop the innovation of working pasta from grain into thin long forms, capable of being dried out and stored for months or years prior to consumption (see Peter Robb's Midnight in Sicily pp 94-96 for details). Or Muslim traders with links to Arab trade routes to china, may have been introduced to pasta or noodles that way. Legend has it that Cicero, the famous Roman orator was fond of "laganum", an ancient tagliatelle. The Saracens, originally from North Africa, invaded southern Italy in the 9th century and occupied Sicily for 200 years. Pasta is now associated with Italians as a whole. The popularity of pasta spread to the whole of Italy after the establishment of pasta factories in the 19th century, enabling the mass production of pasta for the Italian market.


Spaghetti is cooked by boiling the pasta with salt in water until soft. The consistency or texture of spaghetti changes as it is cooked. The most popular consistency is al dente (Italian 'to the tooth'); that is, soft but with texture, sometimes even with bite in the center. Others prefer their spaghetti cooked to a softer consistency. The best dried spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina. Inferior spaghetti is often found produced with other kinds of flour, especially outside Italy. Fresh spaghetti should be prepared with grade '00' flour.

There are two other variants of spaghetti that require different cooking times. Spaghettini ("thin spaghetti") takes less time (usually two minutes less) to cook to al dente form than regular spaghetti. There is also spaghettoni ("thick spaghetti") which takes longer to cook. All three types of spaghetti are larger than the other round-rod pastas (like vermicelli).


An emblem of Italian cuisine, spaghetti is frequently served with tomato sauce, which may contain various herbs (especially oregano and basil), olive oil, meat, or vegetables. Other spaghetti preparations include using Bolognese sauce, carbonara, and chili. Grated hard cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, and Asiago cheese, are often added.

The manner of eating spaghetti varies according to local customs, but it is usually eaten with a fork, as with most other Continental dishes. Eating spaghetti with a fork and a spoon is considered perfectly polite in parts of the United States, although this method is widely disparaged in the US and elsewhere. In East Asia, many people use chopsticks as a form of eating rather than forks, as chopsticks are customary in most East Asian countries.

Though thee traditional method of eating spaghetti in Italy is to use just a fork and twist it so that the spaghetti wraps around the fork, families around the world still consider it a sentimental pasttime to take the end of a noodle and slurp it up joyously.

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