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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Eating Spaghetti Requires a Fork, Not a Spoon

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please advise me on the proper way to eat spaghetti when a family of little kids and adults are informally around the dinner table.

Next, what's correct for a gathering of only adults? And finally, how should it all be done when there is a major formal place setting for each guest?

If they wish, others may go ahead and sing "Jam your right fork in, pull the oozy gooey out, twirl it high into the air, and catch it in your mouth" -- the "meatball on the floor and out the door" song. I only want to set a proper example.

GENTLE READER: That is noble of you, but Miss Manners pictures your relatives' pasta getting cold while they ponder what age qualifies as adulthood, or what degree of formality requires which approach.

You are in dire need of a unified spaghetti policy. And please stop tempting chaos with jingles.

The correct method does not involve a spoon. It is necessary to state that, because Americans of Italian descent often argue that it does. Bracing the tines of the fork against a spoon is considered rather crude (although not as crude as your song) in Italy.

Rather, the fork should be planted, tines down, against the plate, and rotated so that the spaghetti is wound around it. Those pesky strands that refuse to wind can be cut with the side of the fork.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting