The Truth About Julia Roberts' Spaghetti Scene In Eat Pray Love

In 2010, actress Julia Roberts starred in the movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, "Eat Pray Love." The autobiographical romance film captures Gilbert's vision of a woman on an international quest to reconnect with herself. The film follows Liz Gilbert (played by Roberts) on her travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia. It's in Italy where the "eat" portion of the story takes place, as audiences get to watch Liz enjoying traditional Italian delicacies like pizza, and, of course, spaghetti with sauce. The seemingly simple spaghetti dish takes on a new life of its own for Liz, inspiring her to be more adventurous and appreciative. While she may not know how to eat spaghetti like a true Italian, Liz is left inspired and transformed by their food.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the pasta Liz enjoyed during the scene in the film is called Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, which includes a simple tomato sauce made from tomatoes, onions, olive oil, chili pepper, and pancetta. The dish originates from the mountainous Italian village named Amatrice. Liz appears to fall in love with the meal during the scene, however, the backstory behind getting the shot is a lot more complicated and way less romantic.

The spaghetti secrets of "Eat Pray Love"

In a video on Vanity Fair's YouTube channel, food stylist Susan Spungen reveals the secrets behind capturing that moment of food bliss. Spungen reveals the set did not have a kitchen and, due to the movie being filmed in Rome, food trucks were unable to get through the small, narrow streets to the set. This posed a challenge for getting ingredients to the filming location. Once the spaghetti made it to set, however, it was Spungen who cooked and plated it fresh for Roberts' character Liz.

"I wanted something simple and iconic because this scene was all about her deciding to give in to her impulses and just live life," Spungen says in the video.

It's after the scene was filmed, and the cast and crew began to wrap up, that things got interesting. While cleaning up, Spungen threw the remainder of the pasta in the trash. Suddenly, someone remembered that they had forgotten to shoot a close-up shot with parmesan cheese being sprinkled on top. So, Spungen pulled the pasta out of the trash and replated it. "As much as I hated taking it out of the trash, I took it out of the trash, replated it, and we did the parmesan cheese falling on the pasta," Spungen shared.

"But don't worry," she added, "I didn't feed Julia Roberts pasta that had been in the trash."