Question Answers Recipes Reviews Supplies Register
Cooking Baking Ingredients Equipment Techniques Entertaining Holidays Ethnic Nutrition Safety Desserts Drinks History Science Kids
The Legality of Breaking Spaghetti

I have been admonished for years never to break spaghetti before boiling it. The only reason I've ever been given is that it's hard to twirl it on a fork. It may be more "Italian," but twirling isn't the only way to eat spaghetti, and I can't see that it changes the flavor any. Is there a real, culinary reason for this rule?

Twirling isn't the only way to eat spaghetti?

You're right, Italians and many, many other people absolutely forbid the practice. Marcella Hazan, in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, says, "Do not break up spaghetti or any other long pasta into smaller pieces." Many other Italian cookbooks we checked make no mention of the practice, presumably because the barbarity of it never crossed the writers' minds.

The word spaghetti means "thin cords" in Italian, and although there is a diminutive version available — spaghettini — it refers to the diminished thickness of the strand, not in any way the shortening of its length. It is probably fair to say that if the Italians had intended for you to eat short pasta, they would have made it shorter for you.

At Ochef, we often come out on the side of free will (at least as regards cooking), and though you might go straight to Italian cooking hell, we support your right to break spaghetti in half before cooking.

The folks at Cook's Illustrated actually give instructions for breaking pasta in half neatly (Sept./Oct. 1999), and if that doesn't constitute permission, we don't know what does. (Actually the Cook's Illustrated writers say they don't usually break strands of pasta they intend to eat with sauce, but often do break them for inclusion in casseroles.)

We know of no scientific study that has addressed any taste ramifications of breaking spaghetti in half. We would surely never acknowledge the practice ourselves. Even if we had ever done it. Which we almost certainly have not.

Submit your question
to Ochef

Related Articles:
Cooking Spaghetti and Meatballs for 100
How to Make Tender Pasta
How to Make Homemade Pasta with a Machine
How to Buy a Pasta Maker
Cooking Pasta in Advance
Related Recipes:
Angel-Hair Pasta Recipes
Angel Hair Pasta with Peas, Prosciutto, Etc.
Pasta Salad Alfredo
Hay and Straw
CookingBakingIngredientsEquipmentTechniquesEntertainingHolidaysEthnicNutritionSafetyDessertsDrinksHistoryScienceKids

Register 2001-2006 OCHEF LLCSearchAdvertiseContact UsPrivacySite MapLinks