Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.
~Sophia Loren

Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.
~Sophia Loren

When the assignment for today’s blog post came to me, i gave a little yawn. Spaghetti seems so…routine.

But a little digging around on the web has reminded me that spaghetti only became common place in Canada in the last 40 years. My parents did not grow up on spaghetti or mac & cheese or any of the other now ubiquitous pasta dishes. This shift in our diets (and those of our cousins in the UK) is brilliantly illustrated by this 1957 BBC April Fools Day hoax – a broadcast about the “bummer spaghetti crop” being harvested in Switzerland. (Go on, go watch. We’ll be here when you get back).

The broadcast featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest. It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. The program host explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for spaghetti harvesters all over Europe as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti. He also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers. 1957 was a bumper spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, resulting from the mild winter and “virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.”

Seems silly, no? But spaghetti was still an exotic delicacy in the UK (and no doubt Canada) in the 1950’s. HUNDREDS of viewers were so intrigued, they called the BBC and asked where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush. The BBC reportedly told them to “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”. 🙂

So embrace this “exotic delicacy” – it is definitely comfort food for me. In honor of National Spaghetti Day I made a medium bodied tomato sauce, with prawns, clams, and a little shaved pecorino on top. I also obeyed the rules of pasta making:

(1) Always salt the water.

(2) Never cook the pasta ahead – it should be made and eaten immediately.

(3) Don’t rinse the pasta – the starches in the water help the sauces coat the noodles to best effect.

(4) Above all, tuck in that napkin, and enjoy!