Italians grow up learning how to twirl spaghetti, fettuccine, and other long stranded pasta around the tines of their forks with repeated flicks of the wrist and fingers, and though I am not Italian I did spend enough time in Italy when I was quite small that doing so has always seemed completely natural to me.
Because of this, spaghetti days at my elementary school outside Philadelphia were always a source of wonder.
First of all there was the sauce
, which was tomato based with huge meatballs -- far removed from the Bolognese sauce
we had on Sundays in Tuscany, and even further from the tomatoey pomarola
that was the standard daily summer sauce.
And then there was how everyone else ate the stuff: Most of the kids simply speared the spaghetti with their forks, lifted it to their mouths, and stuffed it in, and many ended up wearing quite a bit home on their shirts. Others, especially the girls, instead cut the spaghetti crosswise with their knives and forks to reduce the strands to (roughly) bite-sized pieces, and while the end result was much neater, it seemed like a great deal of work to me.
I simply ate the spaghetti as I always had, and though a few of my classmates noted that I was eating it differently, nobody imitated me.