Have you ever tried squash? What do you think, does it remind you of a nice plate of Italian pasta? Have you ever heard of spaghetti squash? It’s a weird kind of squash with a flesh that separates into little strands that — you won’t believe it — look like spaghetti. And since they look like spaghetti, they can replace spaghetti. Put some tomato sauces on it and you have a healthy spaghetti dish. Of course, you aren’t allowed to put meat balls on top!
That’s fine about the meat balls. We are told they never do that in Italy. But, come on. Do you really think, for even a second, that a plate of squash will taste like a plate of spaghetti? Have you ever tried it? I have. What is different about squash and pasta? The texture is different. The taste is different. I think that makes it totally different. Not for a second did I forget I was eating squash. And not for a second did I enjoy it and stop craving real spaghetti.
The idea that spaghetti squash can replace spaghetti pasta is one of those bogus health food lies that people tell us, and themselves, to make it seem like we can do the health thing without ever compromising. Well, just because something looks similar to something else doesn’t mean you can substitute one for the other. And I do mean similar. If you think that spaghetti squash really looks exactly like spaghetti, then, boy, oh, boy, you need to see an optometrist. And yet, many people seemed to have convinced themselves that they “can’t tell the difference between spaghetti squash and spaghetti.”
I read, with amusement, one cookbook which said “you can really food yourself into thinking you’re eating pasta.” Maybe I am not very good at fooling myself. However, I’d say that about sums up this myth. People can fool themselves into thinking all sorts of things, but I think what is really happening is people simply find that they like spaghetti squash in place of their pasta and “it is good” becomes the same as “it is the same.” It is NOT the same, not even close. The taste is mild, and that is OK, since it does not clash with tomato sauce, but it is fibrous and crunchy rather than glutenous and the wonderful al dente texture and satiety of real spaghetti pasta is not there. I do understand that some people like it better that actual pasta. Hard for me to imagine, but some people like those little yellow marshmallow chicks, as well (Peeps, that is).
Often we find that the word alternative is confused with the word replacement. A replacement has the connotation of a substitute that is equal, or very close to equal, to the original item. Alternative however, implies a choice, not a replacement. You have the choice to cover spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, but that does not make it pasta. If you have read that spaghetti squash is just like spaghetti, and you can’t tell the difference, I think you have been lied to. Is spaghetti squash an OK alternative to real spaghetti? Yes. Is it a direct replacement? Heck, no!