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Can you explain the purpose of the spoon for pasta eating?

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I've never mastered the eating-pasta-with-a-fork-and-a-spoon thing. Can you explain the purpose of the spoon? I'm tired of being embarrassed at Italian restaurants. Do Italians even use spoons?

Some Italian Canadians use spoons to roll their pasta, as well as a few very young and unfortunate children in Italy whose troglodyte parents haven't yet taught them to eat noodles properly - with only a fork. But Italian adults? I put the question to Patricia Bucciero, cultural attaché at Italy's Ottawa embassy.

As it happens, Italian etiquette books from more than a century ago advised the use of a spoon when rolling noodles on a fork, she says. (This may explain why the children of early Italian immigrants to North America often still persist.) Otherwise? "I hate blanket statements," Bucciero told me, "but, yeah, there are probably two people in Italy who do it. Maybe. Somewhere."

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Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist.

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