The Knack: How to eat spaghetti, by Stefano Fraquelli

"Eating spaghetti is an art, and the test of artistic ability is an immaculate shirt, tie or blouse at the end of the meal. Eat it with a fork alone - the fork being another Italian invention. A spoon is simply not acceptable, let alone fork and knife! Twirl the spaghetti on the plate, to one side, ensuring that each mouthful has the appropriate amount of sauce on it. (Italians would never dream of putting oil in the boiling water while cooking spaghetti, as the sauce would simply slide off.) Next, lean over the plate and ensure that no pasta trails from the fork, which might require an undignified slurp and a high risk of damage to your own and your neighbours' attire. But even the most dedicated and skilled spaghetti eater, when sporting a new tie, shirt or blouse, may tuck a serviette in the neck. This is not considered poor etiquette in Italy - it is done today in smart restaurants as it was done centuries ago by the aristocracy, when spaghetti was created for an Italian king's wedding.

The ultimate challenge is to eat spaghetti so skilfully that one can engage in conversation at the same time, meanwhile absorbing all remaining sauce with the last mouthful, leaving the plate clean - the only way guests can show real appreciation to their hosts." Fiona McClymont

Stefano Fraquelli is the co-proprietor of Spaghetti House, the London group of Italian restaurants which brought spaghetti al dente to London 45 years ago. Ring 0171-637 9941 for your nearest branch.

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