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Spaghetti From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Spaghetti From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Everything you need to know about spaghetti, different recipes, how to eat it, and curious facts.

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Al dente
Is the perfect point of “doneness”, when spaghetti is drained before becoming soft. It’s a skill that gets developed with time and time, not by just reading cooking times on packaging.

The most famous condiment gets its name from the Italian city that makes the best meat sauce: ragu. But in many places in the world, spaghetti is served with tomato sauce and meatballs.

Spaghetti is rich in carbohydrates, and is a symbolic food of the Mediterranean diet. They are easily digestible, and provide a large amount of both energy and nutriments.

Dried or fresh
Like other types of pasta, spaghetti comes in both dried or fresh variants, and the two are very different. Dried pasta is more common and made from durum wheat. The fresh kind includes eggs and should be eaten immediately.

To prepare a dish of spaghetti, a high pot is needed in which salted water should be brought to boil. You’ll also need a drainer and a saucepan to mix it in with the sauce. Measurements? The rule is 1-10-100: 1 liter of water, 10 grams of salt, 100 grams of spaghetti.

Flying spaghetti monster
The most famous pasta shape has also inspired the name of a satirical Kansas-based cult whose leader wears a pasta drainer on his head.

Garlic & oil
The simplest sauce is one made of garlic and oil: just fry a garlic clove in a pan with extra-virgin olive oil, then add (if you wish) chili pepper.

How to
Spaghetti should be eaten with a fork and not a spoon. It should not be cut, but twirled on the fork. In Italy, this technique is learned in childhood. 

The homeland of spaghetti and pasta. It’s the world’s largest producer, making 3.2 tons a year. The USA comes in at second place, with 2 million tons a year, and Brazil produces one million tons. Each year, the average Italian eats 28 kilos of pasta.

Jefferson (Thomas)
It is believed that the third US president was the first to bring a special machine to make “macaroni” (what pasta was called) into the country from France. Jefferson is said to have been a great fan of spaghetti with cheese.

Kublai Khan
As legend has it, Marco Polo first tasted spaghetti in the Chinese court of Kublai Khan, and then brought it with him back to the West. But the debate over pasta’s origins is still unresolved: some say it was China, others claim it was Ancient Greece.

Industrially produced spaghetti is 25 centimeters long. Even in a low pot, Italians believe it should never be broken, but added slowly into the boiling water so it can soften, whole.

Spaghetti prepared the “matriciana” way (from the town of Amatrice), feature a red sauce made with peeled tomatoes, pork cheek, percorino cheese, lard and chili pepper. The Lazio town is so proud that it displays a sign at the entrance which reads: “Amatrice, the city of spaghetti”.

They may have the same shape as spaghetti, but they aren’t the same thing. Noodles are the Eastern version of the Italian dish. They’ve been eaten in China for more than 4,000 years and are usually lighter, thinner, and aren’t made from durum wheat.

Ober Ramstadt
This German region is now in the Guinness Book of World Records, for having made (thanks to an Italian), the longest spaghetti ever – measuring 455 meters.

A dusting of parmesan cheese is the most popular spaghetti topping, and for a long time cheese and black pepper were the only condiments used with spaghetti. Una spruzzata di parmigiano grattato è il top più comune sopra agli spaghetti, e il formaggio per lungo tempo è stato – insieme al pepe – il solo condimento usato sugli spaghetti.

There are many different qualities of spaghetti, which vary according to shape and cooking time. Among the long qualities like spaghetti there is a hollow version (bucatini), flat and rectangular versions (linguine), or very long and wide qualities like lasagna. Some qualities also come rolled up in the shape of a nest like tagliolini, pappardelle and fettuccine.

The Italian word for “rock”, or scoglio, lends itself to the name of a flavorful seafood sauce loaded with clams, mussels, shrimp and scampi, the sauce can either be made only with white wine, or the addition of tomato sauce.

Spaghetti eaters
Is a derogatory term used for Italian immigrants in America.

The pummarola, the smooth tomato sauce that originated in Naples, is the most common way to dress a dish of spaghetti.

Not everyone can digest spaghetti because of its gluten content.

Vegetables aren’t only used to top spaghetti, but they are also used to color and flavor the actual pasta: tomato makes a red pasta, pumpkin turns it orange, and spinach makes it green.

The Spaghetti Western is a genre of film from the 1970s that denotes small-budget cowboy movies that were shot in Italy and directed by Sergio Leone.

Xtreme spaghetti
The current world record for eating the most spaghetti in the least amount of time is currently held by a Tuscan man, who ate 100 grams in 33 seconds, stealing the record from the previous Japanese winner.

Yolks and carbonara dilemma
Even the most famous chefs are in debate regarding yolks and carbonara sauce: the original recipe calls for one whole egg to be added per person – yolks and whites together. But the other half of the world doesn’t agree.

Zerega Antoine
The French immigrant to the U.S., Mr. Zerega, opened the country’s very first pasta maker’s shop in Brooklyn in 1848. Today is great-grandchildren continue to produce pasta.

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