Spaghettiquette: Learning to Eat Spaghetti on the Road

Marcos has invited me to share a meal with him in his kingdom: a sticky truck cabin that serves like home. I am on the driver’s seat, while he heats up spaghetti on a gas cooker next to me. “My wife prepared it,” he utters with melancholy, stirring the pot firmly as to get a hold of his emotions. The smell of Italian countryside fills the cabin, caresses the breasts of his poster girls, and penetrates the leather seats.

After a day of waving my thumb at strangers and holding up the sign “Rome” for hours, I got stranded at a petrol station; an unwelcoming factory of third-rate comfort, their star product being a tepid coffee served at a TL-lighted cafeteria that made anyone look like death warmed over.

He spotted me at the only comforting place I could find, wedged between the coffee machine and the snack dispenser, my head bobbing to the rhythm of my insomnia. A tap on the shoulder brought me back to reality. “I am Marcos and you are going to have dinner with me,” the tanned truck driver stated in an Italian accent.

spaghettiI am wide-awake now; the idea of a homemade meal makes my stomach holler. Marcos hands me over a plate and a fork. I immediately start chopping the strands in ready to eat pieces and I would have passionately slaughtered the whole plate if it were not for Marcos’ reaction.

What the hell are you doing?” he shrieks.

I look at him incomprehensively. “Whatever you do, never ever cut spaghetti,” he reproaches me as if I were a three-year-old. Even the poster girls have changed their ardent looks for a look of disdain.

I realize I just broke the spaghetiquette. Spray-painting the Coliseum would have been less insulting. I wish I were still wedged between the coffee machine and the snack dispenser.

I move uncomfortably in my seat. Marcos professionally twirls, lifts and chews the pasta. I am faced with the impossible task to one-handedly wrap the spaghetti around my fork, bring it gracefully to my mouth and make all the strands disappear at once. This pasta puts up a fight: the strands either launch themselves back onto my plate or desperately clutch to my chin. I have no choice but to slurp them up, trying to slow them down just before they enter my mouth to avoid the infamous spaghetti splatter.

After half-an-hour of struggling, I twist and twirl almost at the same rhythm as Marcos. The only difference being that I have more sauce on my chin. And on my lap. And it is on the steering wheel. And on the left breast of a blond poster girl. And there is some on the windscreen too.

“Sorry, Marcos” I say, pointing out the bloodbath. He shrugs his shoulders at the sight of the collateral damage. He seems pretty happy; after all, he has housebroken a lost hitchhiker. Italian style.

photo by stevendepolo

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