Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and then salt the water generously. Add the spaghetti and stir occasionally to prevent the pasta clumping together. Boil the pasta until it is tender but not mushy -- al dente, about 8 minutes.
While the pasta cooks, combine the garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a large skillet and warm over low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic softens and turns golden.
Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving about a 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved water to the garlic mixture. Mix well. Add the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large serving bowl or divide among warm bowls. Serve topped with the cheese, if desired.
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