gourmet recipes  August 2011
    by Nunzio Romano

The “new” traditions: the Pasta Carbonara-style

The carbonara, as well as being one of the most famous dishes of the Italian cuisine, is also the most discussed: which are the true ingredients? Which are the real origins of this recipe ? Can we say it is an “authentic” recipe?

Let’s start by saying that the “carbonara” as we know it today is a rather recent invention.
Before the Second World War, in fact, there are no written records of this recipe and there are no report of it in the most famous books. Most of the theories on the origins are linked to the presence of American allied troops in Italy during the last two years of war.

The most popular theory has it that this pasta mixed with eggs, ham and bacon was invented by a Roman cook that prepare it using the soldiers rations. Therefore the recipe requires for pancetta, similar to bacon, rather than the traditional guanciale (meat from the pig’s cheek). This theory, however, is disputed by some experts: some argue that the ingredients are actually those of the Allied troops rations, but in reality, the carbonara was invented by chef Renato Riccione Gualandi inspired by a Slovenian recipe.

Others believe that the origins of this dish are much older and related to the Lazio recipe “cacio e ova” (cheese and eggs) eaten by coalminers (in Italian carbonari).
Probably, carbonara is the result of an evolution of the traditional “cacio e ova”, modified at the end of World War II, using the ingredients available at the time.

For these reasons it is difficult to associate this recipe with the word “authentic”, there is no doubt though, that some necessary tricks have to be applied to prepare a good pasta carbonara.
This dish is prepared in many different ways: some add the cream, others prefer to sauté the pasta with the egg, while others think it is better to use the guanciale instead of bacon. Perhaps, given the recent origins of the recipe, none of these are to be considered formally incorrect, as it is more a matter of taste.

Nonetheless we asked our chef Mario Grazia some tips on how to make a good carbonara:

- When you drain the pasta set aside some of the cooking water and add it to the egg in order to obtain a creamy and not too dry carbonara.

- The carbonara is likely to be a recipe from the Lazio region, where the use of cream is very limited. Therefore, in order to respect the original spirit of the recipe, it might be better not to use it. If you add some cooking water to the pasta, the dough should be fairly smooth even without the cream.

- When you mix the pasta with the egg, be careful to pour the last on the pasta and not the other way round, to avoid the making of annoying lumps.

Finally, remember that if you want to try our Pasta Carbonara recipe, you will find it on our website!

Buon appetito!

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