What I saw was a very legitimate sounding short documentary film with a very scholarly, British voice talking about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, but then mentioning the "tremendous scale of the Italian's... (harvest)" and the "vast spaghetti plantations in the Po valley". From that point on, until I was in my early twenties, I actually believed there was some sort of special tree or bush in Italy that produced some sort of spaghetti... fruit, pod or otherwise. It wasn't until I saw Jack Parr himself talking about the hoax on the Tonight Show in the early 1970s that I learned the embarrassing truth--a "truth" that I would argue about with my non-Italian friends growing up. Parr claimed they didn't get a single call about the segment--that people bought it hook, line and sinker. Ok, so maybe I was a bit gullible. But it was a very convincing documentary film, produced originally as a serious film for, of all things, a news show... and besides, I was only 12!
On April 1, 1957--April F0ol's Day--the BBC television show Panorama aired the short "documentary" about the "spaghetti harvest" in Ticino, Switzerland. The film shows spaghetti trees ripe with long strands of spaghetti and a Swiss farming family harvesting by hand, putting the spaghetti into baskets and then carefully laying them out to dry in the "warm Alpine sun."
Some viewers bought it entirely and called BBC to find out where they could buy some of the "real spaghetti". Many British gardeners wanted to know how to buy a spaghetti bush for their own garden. Others were very angry that a joke was portrayed as a serious subject on a real news program. Still others--like me--just tucked this into their knowledge banks, unquestioningly and carried it as a "truth" throughout their lives, being even more convinced every time they heard the expression "fresh pasta"... of course, that must be referring to the real stuff fresh picked from the trees! What did I know. Neither my Mother or Grandmother even made fresh spaghetti... only home made ravioli from time to time. I knew they didn't grow on trees! All I ever saw growing up was dried, boxed spaghetti--you know, the fake stuff.
However, I have since learned that there are actually spaghetti alternatives that grow from Madre Terra. I even grew 2 foot long "snake" beans a few years ago that came pretty close. Here are a few veggie spaghetti alternatives...
(Damn you, Jack Parr!)
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