Place water in large lidded pot, add salt and bring to a rolling boil. Add spaghetti, fanning it into the water so that each strand makes contact. Using a wooden spoon or tongs, gently bend noodles to submerge. Cover pot and return to a rolling boil, reducing heat to medium-high. Stir occasionally.
Pour 3 tablespoons of good quality extra-virgin olive oil into the bottom of a wide serving bowl along with garlic.
In 4 minutes, start tasting. When done, a string of spaghetti should be springy when pulled on. To the tooth, there should be some resistance but not so much that the pasta sticks in the teeth. As soon as pasta is done, drain immediately in a large colander (lidded models are the best). Shake pasta to stop cooking but don't shake dry. And no rinsing!
Add pasta to serving bowl and toss to coat. Quickly divide into individual bowls and toss with various toppings.
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown