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Charlie Hatton
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How I Feel About… Spaghetti

It’s been a while since I felt something, publicly.

(Not that I’m feeling things, privately, when you’re not looking. Don’t try and distract me.)

I’ve felt things in the past, sure. Shared my personal opinions on subjects as varied as pirates, pinatas, hippos, orthodontists, libraries and marshmallows.

That’s quite a list. You might think it’s plenty enough already. You would be sadly mistaken.

How on earth would you know how to feel about things unless I spell it out for you? Silly sadly mistaken goose.

And so, for your further edificationary benefit, I now present:

How I Feel About… Spaghetti

Spaghetti is BAD because most of the American-bastardized homemade “spaghetti” I ate growing up consisted of limp soggy noodles in a thin tomato sauce — and tasted like limp soggy newspaper in a diluted ketchup mist. For most of my childhood, I thought that’s what all Italian food tasted like. I just assumed that those Roman guys who subjugated half of Western civilization a few centuries back were just trying to conquer a place that had decent meals for a change.

Spaghetti is GOOD because ghetto bastardized spaghetti really makes you appreciate authentic Italian food when you finally get around to tasting it. There’s a whole other world of spices and herbs and flavors in there. Of course, it does make the Romans seem like a bunch of empire-grubbing assholes again. But enough basil and garlic will make you forgive anything.

“You don’t see other foods mangled in this way — there’s no such thing as “Cheeri-Es” or pizza sliced into Qs, or sometimes-Y-shaped bread sticks.”

Spaghetti is BAD because the most heinous crime to all of fooddom is based on spaghetti: the Spaghetti-O. Never mind that it’s canned, or made from flavored sawdust and pig sphincters, or that it has the nutritional value of… well, flavored sawdust and pig sphincters, I suppose. My objection is purely typographical. Spaghetti noodles are long skinny strings; O’s are big honking circles — the very antithesis of spaghetti’s natural form. You don’t see other foods mangled in this way — there’s no such thing as “Cheeri-Es” or pizza sliced into Qs, or sometimes-Y-shaped bread sticks. I could live with Spaghetti-Is, The Os make zero sense.

Spaghetti is GOOD because to test whether spaghetti noodles have finished cooking, you can throw one against the wall to see if it sticks. To my knowledge, this is the only food on the planet where we determine its doneness by winging it across the kitchen. It certainly doesn’t work with three-alarm chili. Not again, anyway. My wife has been very emphatic on that point.

Spaghetti is BAD because there’s an ‘h’ in the middle of the word that’s completely unnecessary. I think of it as silent — just a poor mute letter that wandered into the wrong word at the wrong time. But no. That ‘h’ is somehow non-verbally expressed by Italians, which means no matter what I do I’m not saying the word correctly. Listen to an Italian say ‘spaghetti’, and the ‘h’ is there. You can’t hear it, but it comes across — in a gesture, or a nod, or a quintessential Italian shrug. Fuggedaboutit — spaghetti! Me, I say ‘SPAY-getty’. And there’s not a goddamned thing I can do about it.

Spaghetti is GOOD because the flying spaghetti monster is made from spaghetti. And if you’re worshiping a deity that doesn’t come slathered in bolognese with a side of meatballs, then I’m not sure what to tell you. Your spiritual experience is simply not as delicious as it might otherwise be.

Spaghetti is BAD because it should be dead simple to cook. But I’ve tried, and I can either make long rigid pasta splinters or I can make something with the approximate shape and consistency of gummy worm turds, but I fail in all cases to make ‘spaghetti’. Or even ‘SPAY-getti’. It’s not even my fault. Even Wikipedia seems confused: “Spaghetti is cooked in a large pot of salted, boiling water… which is brought to boiling. Then one or two spoons of salt are added and after a minute or so the pasta is added.” So I boil salted water, then boil it, then salt it, and then add the pasta? No wonder I’ve been screwing it up. I bet the Department of Redundancy Department cafeteria gets it perfect al dente every time.

Spaghetti is BAD because it inspired the name ‘spaghetti squash’, which is just terribly confusing to a culinary midget like me. I bought a spaghetti squash once, and they don’t even look like spaghetti. Like a big fat jaundiced Spaghetti-O, maybe. And I dropped it in a pot of double-boiled, twice-salted water like I was told, but it never softened up — no matter how many times I took it out and chucked it at the wall. I ended up eating a whole bottle of Ragu by itself, because this ‘spaghetti squash’ concept is so ill-conceived. You don’t call cantaloupes ‘chicken parmesan melons’, for no good reason. Why toy with my brain about this stupid squash?

So, spaghetti is BAD. And ‘SPAY-getti‘ is REALLY BAD. Real authentic spaghetti is probably pretty good, but I can’t say spaghhhhhetti properly, so I end up sucking down cardboard and stupid chewy little pork ass Os. So my spaghetti is bad. Your spaghetti may vary. Particularly if you’re Roman, or walk around with an extra ‘H’ or two stuffed in your pockets.

And that’s how I feel about spaghetti.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “How I Feel About… Spaghetti”

  1. Binky says:

    Spaghetti is good because it’s food and it’s yummy. Though it’s bad because it doesn’t have any chocolate in it. Chocolate spaghetti would be excellent!

  2. ema says:

    Should I invite you for real dinner? I can cook some linguine, basically flattened spaghetti, but since you don’t like the h, that’s pretty close. Now the pronunciation of linguine would be worth another post…

  3. Charlie says:

    Binky, I don’t know. Spaghetti made from chocolate is probably fine. Spaghetti noodles in chocolate sauce… that’s a whole other world of hurt I don’t think I want to be involved with.

    And Ema, I’d be honored to have your pasta, knowing it’s an authentic dish.

    But you’re right — I can no more put the ‘INGUA‘ in linguine than I can pronounce the ‘h’ in spaghetti. So I’m doomed to disappoint, even before we start.

    Why the hell does pasta have to be so hard?

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