I don’t know about everyone else, but for me pasta should be cooked al dente, which means that the pasta should have an ever so slightly firm texture when chewed. When pasta is over cooked, it expands and breaks quite easily, especially if you're trying to roll it onto your fork. I say roll it onto your fork because that's how it ought to be eaten, with the help of a spoon, if necessary. Do not cut the pasta into a million tiny pieces (unless you're feeding a child, then I can understand). Seriously, what’s up with that, people? You don’t cut your spaghetti or any long noodle.
Cutting pasta is actually something that drives my mother completely crazy. When she sees plates come back to the kitchen with the pasta looking absolutely murdered instead of eaten, it's an insult to her. As an Italian, she really takes in personally. For me it's a hoot to watch her get all worked up as she lists her Italian do's and don’t about how pasta should be eaten.
Anyway, where was I... Oh, yeah, when it comes to cooking pasta, my mother & sister always have the same discussion about whether it will be al dente or not. They can go on for a good half hour (if not more) about it. As I said, I like my pasta al dente, and I tell them that's how I think it should be cooked, but my mother says, "It's not about how you like the pasta. It can't be too hard or cooked too much. You understand, JB? Please stop being so smart." (OK, ma, I'll try to be more stupid.) Then, my sister says, "No way. I’m not over cooking the pasta. We are an Italian restaurant, and what kind of Italians cook their pasta to the point of it expanding? Then, when you strain it, the pasta looks like mush. Please!"
Back and forth they go, arguing about how to cook pasta. Meanwhile, I’m over in the corner laughing at the both of them, thinking: Holy sh*t, we have this fight at least once a week. What the hell is wrong with us? Finally, I have to butt in and tell them to just cook the freakin’ pasta because tomorrow is coming up fast and I want to go home. I tell them that a happy medium would half al dente, half slightly more cooked, and they both give me this look like I'm on freakin' on crack because what the h*ll does half al dente, half slightly more cooked mean anyway, right? Then, my mother says, "Please stop watching those cooking shows. They messing up your head & they making us look bad." Meanwhile, my sister is making faces at me from behind her. (Sometimes, we resort to being like small children when it comes with dealing with mama pasta dearest.) I tell them that we should have a cooking show because nobody would believe that for a complete hour we can discuss how to cook pasta for people who use a knife and fork to eat any noodle that is too long to roll onto the end of a fork, but my mother doesn't think anyone would believe us. Well, if she's right about one thing, it's that what you see on TV doesn't even come close to what goes on in a kitchen. Seriously, if Gordon Ramsey thinks he's running Hell's Kitchen, he can think again because we are the original Hell's Kitchen.