Spaghetti recipes are the ones you first think when you crave of pasta. This kind of pasta and Italy are so one that the western movies made in Italy are referred as “spaghetti westerns”. Clint Eastwood certainly enjoyed those “spaghetti“, as they launched his career.

Spaghetti translates in “little strings”. It’s the diminutive of spago – string.

There are more spaghetti recipes than any other kind of pasta. Spaghetti are long pasta, once around 18 inches long, now just about 10 inches. It seems that the long shape would discourage people choosing them and opting for a short pasta shape instead, like penne and rigatoni. Yet, nobody seems to mind. It can be because the strand of spaghetti when rolled around the fork catches and holds the sauce better than any other type of pasta. Even foreigners accept the challenge. But I observed some (horror!), grabbing the knife and proceeding to section them.

Some like to eat spaghetti with the help of a spoon. It’s perceived to be the proper Italian way, especially in the States. Not so in Italy. I wonder how the idea originated. It could be it was copied from the habit of some Italian immigrants. At first spaghetti were longer, so rolling against a spoon made them more manageable.

I wonder the surprise when these people in an elegant Italian restaurant are presented only with a fork.

Spaghetti Do Not Grow On Trees

Many believed it when it was broadcasted on the BBC on April Fool’s Day – 1st April 1957. The Swiss spaghetti harvest hoax generated hundreds of phone calls to the BBC, inquiries on how to grow spaghetti. The BBC imperturbable reply was: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Where spaghetti were made first, was probably in Sicily in large enough quantities to get the credit. Certainly, durum (hard in Latin) wheat was and still is the type of wheat for good pasta making. Sicily has the ideal climate to grow it, sunny warm and dry. The island was the granary of ancient Rome.

I had some memorable delicious experience in Sicily where I had to spend two months, in Palermo, in the military. When we went to pick up fresh baked bread for the barrack still hot from the oven, I couldn’t resist the fragrance and broke some pieces to taste and ended up eating a couple of the small breads. It tasted so good. I never had any better bread that Sicilian bread and, I know, it’s the Sicilian wheat that makes the difference.

Italian dried spaghetti must be made by law with durum wheat. Not so sure about other countries. Spaghetti, of course, are exciting in a condiment or sauce. Then they acquire a distinct personality. They are still spaghetti, but they assume a second name, with the sauce recipes they are married to.

As the premier pasta, there are a lot of spaghetti recipes associated with them. They are more indicated than short pasta with thin sauces, like spaghetti marinara. That doesn’t mean that they hold the exclusivity.

But spaghetti are versatile and stand up well in rich sauces too, like spaghetti carbonara and spaghetti with the bolognese sauce recipe. It can be also because they were an easier pasta shape to produce at the beginning than the other types. So spaghetti alla carrettiera is what one expects to be and not for example penne alla carrettiera, even though sauce and pasta would get along.

Fish sauces like in a tuna sauce recipe are generally associated with long pasta. A clam sauce recipe is also meant to be with spaghetti or linguine.

For Neapolitans, spaghetti are natural c’à pummarola, a simple tomato sauce. Spaghetti alla puttanesca is an improvised recipe made with readily available canned ingredients. When you’re invited for a plate of pasta in Italy, a way to put for a quick meal, you can bet they are going to be spaghetti. They are the first and most welcome type of pasta for simple quick pasta recipes.

I must mention that spaghetti will often substitute other long pasta, like trenette associated with pesto and tagliatelle in the bolognese.

Quick pasta recipes are most of the time associated with spaghetti.They are the pasta shape always present in an Italian home.

There is nothing faster and simpler and yet very tasty than spaghetti cacio e pepe (pecorino and black pepper).

Spaghetti have relatives. Members of the same family are spaghettini, thinner than spaghetti, vermicelli,even thinner, capellini (angels hair), linguine, slightly flattened spaghetti and spaghettoni, thicker than spaghetti. I can include also bucatini, thick hollow spaghetti and more…They’re all good for spaghetti recipes.

 

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