Most people use the term “spaghetti” to refer to the dish: long, thin pasta noodles smothered in rich tomato sauce and served with herbs and Parmesan cheese. The actual word “spaghetti,” however, is really just the name used to describe the noodle.
As you may have guessed, spaghetti is traditionally Italian. The word spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is the diminutive of spago, literally translating to “thin rope” or “string.”
Though pasta’s origins can be traced all the way back to the fifth century, spaghetti noodles, specifically, are thought to have been first produced in 12th century Sicily. Its popularity didn’t reach the United States until the latter half of the 19th century, where it was served in restaurants with tomato sauce and soon became an enormously popular American mainstay.
Go to any Italian restaurant in America today, and you’ll find spaghetti served in a similar way. Nowadays, it’s common to see spaghetti noodles served in a Bolognese sauce, which is a meat-based red sauce that also has origins in Italy. Traditionally, spaghetti is served “al dente,” which means it’s cooked until it’s firm to bite, or as the translation reads “to the tooth.”