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I think this is a stupid "rule". Am I right or wrong?


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There are many, many rules in cooking.  Some make sense, others are just wrong and a scientific research into them disproves them - the ban of washing mushrooms comes to mind.  There are also shibboleths that may or may not have a foundation, but are accepted as law.  I'd love to see a discussion of this.  I'll start:

 

I hear everywhere that it is just wrong to break spaghetti in half before cooking it.  Why?  Sometimes I do it because I'm cooking it in a saucepan rather than a large stockpot or Dutch oven.  As far as I can tell, it doesn't change the flavor or texture.  But I hear it all the time: "Never, ever break your spaghetti in half!".  Like only a rube or barbarian would do that.  So, why?  

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Like there is a perfect length?  Shows up on cooking shows. The same ones that insist on large volumes of water to cook pasta. Why? Because , that’s why. 

 

I contend a small volume is better because it’s faster and gives concentrated starchy water for the sauce. 

 

Harold Mcghee has said something similar IIRC

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8 minutes ago, lindag said:

never wash my mushrooms

 

Here in central Illinois, packaged mushrooms are stuck full of mud. My farmers' market mushroom guy has clean mushrooms though.

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56 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

But I hear it all the time: "Never, ever break your spaghetti in half!".  Like only a rube or barbarian would do that.  So, why?  

 

Because then it's too short to twirl nicely around your fork.

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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1 hour ago, Kim Shook said:

I hear everywhere that it is just wrong to break spaghetti in half before cooking it.  Why?  Sometimes I do it because I'm cooking it in a saucepan rather than a large stockpot or Dutch oven.  As far as I can tell, it doesn't change the flavor or texture.  But I hear it all the time: "Never, ever break your spaghetti in half!".  Like only a rube or barbarian would do that.  So, why?  

 

Because the spaghetti can feel it. In fact, if you listen very, very closely, you can hear the spaghetti scream. Linguine, too.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I watched a nature special on wild spaghettis.  It was stressed that the taller and longer  the males, the more females they could capture for breeding purposes. By breaking them in half, you are upsetting the entire balance of power.    If this practice is allowed to continue,  soon spaghetti will be no longer  then this ---------.  . Moral of the story, think before you break.   

Edited by IowaDee (log)
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In Chinese thinking, long noodles (including spaghetti etc) are symbolic of longevity. Breaking or cutting them is a big taboo! It will cut your life short!

 

Stopping slurping down your noodles for a cigarette break half way through  is OK, though.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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11 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

I hear everywhere that it is just wrong to break spaghetti in half before cooking it.  Why?  Sometimes I do it because I'm cooking it in a saucepan rather than a large stockpot or Dutch oven.  As far as I can tell, it doesn't change the flavor or texture.  But I hear it all the time: "Never, ever break your spaghetti in half!".  Like only a rube or barbarian would do that.  So, why? 

 

You are banned from Italy, such anathema against the sacred rules is not tolerated.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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11 hours ago, IowaDee said:

I watched a nature special on wild spaghettis.  It was stressed that the taller and longer  the males, the more females they could capture for breeding purposes. By breaking them in half, you are upsetting the entire balance of power.    If this practice is allowed to continue,  soon spaghetti will be no longer than then this ---------.  . Moral of the story, think before you break.   

 

That would be Serengeti spaghettis. 

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One brand, I forget which, is now packaging "pan sized spaghetti".   It's about 6" long, from the looks of the box.     Looks like they never heard the rule.

I , personally, am a fork twirler, so like longer strands.   DH chops his up, so would be find with this.    As the old saying goes, "Whom cares?"

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eGullet member #80.

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I think the fork was invented only a few hundred years ago and guys in Italy/France etc. was just eating with a spoon, knife, or their hands. 

 

I can't remember, but I believe they didn't make spaghetti until they "invented" the fork because they just had spoons to eat with. 

 

So the pasta in the pre-fork era was things like ravioli, macaroni etc. that you could eat with a spoon only. 

 

I guess there was a purpose form making long pasta and breaking it in little pieces would frustrate the original purpose of making a long form pasta 

 

maybe textural difference in long form that you can't get with short form pasta that makes the eating experience better? 

 

 

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59 minutes ago, eugenep said:

 I think the fork was invented . . .

 

I just read a very interesting book called CONSIDER THE FORK: A HISTORY OF HOW WE COOK AND EAT by Bee Wilson, a BBC food writer. "Blending history, science, and anthropology, Wilson reveals how our culinary tools and tricks came to be, and how their influence has shaped modern food culture."

 

I was fascinated.

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Sounds like my kind of book.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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A quick survey of various sources yields the following: Most sources attribute the invention of the fork as a dinner utensil to 4th century Byzantium. Supposedly it morphed from Greek and Roman two-pronged tools that migrated to the tables of Byzantine nobles. It is also the most common theory that the fork then traveled to Italy before the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. Apparently the Medici's were early adopters. I'm sure they found them to be very useful for stabbing each other. With the pointy end, of course.

 

Oh, and my vote goes to fork twirling as the main reason to avoid breaking long pasta. You break it for kids who haven't acquired that dexterity yet. It was invented by the Phillistines.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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I used to lunch with an older lady who ate VERY slowly.    If you finished before her, and a waiter hovered nearby, she would relinquish her plate even though only half eaten.    I had read someplace that two strands of spaghetti provided a proper forkful.   And so learned to twirl two strands, taking enough time for my friend to finish her meal.    Actually, rather civilized.  

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Actually, in my neck of woods the widepread use of forks is attributted to 15th century Croatian mercenaries carrying it to the French royal court (similar to what is now considered to be a necktie)... But spaghetti, on the other hand, have gained popularity in industrialization era (mid 18-hundreds)- nothing to do with forks, but with means to mass produce. i.e. extrude, wheat pasta.

 

Completely off the topic, I like spaghetti broken in half- that way they get rolled around the fork perfectly in a bite sized piece.

 

As for usual "dos" and "don'ts", I've learned to ignore all advice that seems contradictory to my common sense... except when it comes to using wine/alcohol to tenderize or braise meat.  I've learned it the hard way that the proper way is to burn off alcohol prior to using it beecause it will, otherwise, hinder the meat getting tender.

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A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?  - Oscar Wilde

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