This too shall pasta

If you’re more informed than I am, you probably heard about the biggest controversy to come out of Washington in years. I can’t believe I almost missed it. I like a good scandal as much as anybody, and this one involved two of my favorite topics: eating out and pasta.

Here’s the lowdown: One evening in February, President and Mrs. Biden ordered the same rigatoni dish at a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Shocking! Immediately a hullabaloo erupted where so many important discussions of the day start — on Twitter. Some Twitter users … wait. What do you call people who use Twitter? Twitterers? Twits? People with nothing better to do?

I’ll go with tweeters. It’s kinder and quicker to type. Anyway, some tweeters wondered what the fuss was about. But many were horrified that the Bidens chose the same entrée when there were so many… uh … pasta-bilities on the menu.

And it wasn’t just the Twitterverse. Media outlets from all sides of the political spectrum weighed in. Some even called on etiquette experts for advice so their viewers wouldn’t make a similar faux pasta. I’m sorry. I just can’t help myself.

Anyway, everyone had moved on to something equally important — maybe butter, sour cream or both on baked potatoes — by the time a friend mentioned the Biden’s blunder to me. My initial reaction was, “What next? Matching outfits!”

Not really. Actually I had three thoughts. One, Twitter users have too much time on their hands and should come clean my house. Two, all the world’s problems must be solved if cable news has time to cover the Great Rigatoni Scandal. And three, I can’t wait to write about this.

Because, as usual, I do have an opinion. Also I’m usually right, so you’re in luck. But because I’m open-minded, I decided to go to Twitter and try to understand the opinions of those who live there before I tell you what you should think.

The comments fell into three categories. There were those who said they were shocked and disgusted that the Bidens ordered the same thing. There were those who said it’s a free country and the Bidens can order whatever they want. And there were those who said, “Who are the Bidens?” 

Just kidding. But there were a lot who thought it was just plain wrong. As an etiquette expert myself or, rather, as someone who eats out a lot, I can’t help objecting to some of their objections. 

One tweeter said, “I have honestly never heard of a couple — married or otherwise — who order the EXACT same at a restaurant.” If that was you, you need to get out more. And when you eat out, do what I do: Stare at other people’s food. Then you’ll realize that couples do occasionally order the same thing. Plus you’ll have a good visual of what’s available for the next time you’re there

Some said the main reason to eat out is to try different things on the menu. Wrong. The main reason to eat out is to get out of cooking and doing dishes.

Plus, it’s nice to get away from home and enjoy the ambiance of a restaurant. I think secret service agents standing nearby might detract from the atmosphere but most of us don’t have to worry about that.

Others said, if you’re going to order the same thing, why not just order one entrée and share. My husband and I often order one meal to share, but only when we know it’s as big as a microwave oven.

Maybe the rigatoni dish wasn’t big enough to share, in which case the Bidens spared us what almost certainly would have been an even bigger uproar. If the first couple ordering the same meal could cause such controversy, imagine what would have happened if they’d been seen arguing over the last rigatoni.

Dorothy Rosby is the author of I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest and other books. Contact her at