Is breaking long pasta like spaghetti, linguini or bucatini really a “criminal offence” as Lidia Bastianich puts it in her PBS special? Given that serious eating uses almost exactly the same words to describe the act, it seems the answer is yes! “If someone wants short pasta, they should buy short pasta,” they say. “Breaking long pasta to put in the pot is criminal negligence.”
So why are there such strong feelings about just breaking spaghetti in half? Chef Carolina Garofani shares via Average that the reason is simple: pastas like this are meant to be enjoyed for a long time and swirled around the fork, holding the sauces and flavors tight in the rolled-up strands. Garofani also points out that tradition and technique are sacred in Italian cuisine and catering, and that Italians take them very seriously. Breaking long pasta into pieces is like breaking those same traditions, which is why Italians like Bastianich scream in horror at the sight, even the threat of it!
Does breaking long pasta into small pieces make it taste bad or cook it badly? Garofani says no and humorously adds that you will not be sent to prison for this act. However, this means running the risk of losing the respect and friendship of your Italian friends, after hearing them shout at them for the first time. Our advice? Just enjoy those long strands of pasta as they are!