Cooking Italy~Spaghetti alla Carbonara

27 03 2010

Just as there are a number of interpretations of recipes for Spagetti alla Carbonara, there are just as many interpretations of the recipe’s origins. Marcella leans toward the origin of the dish being in Rome during the Second World War, when food resources were scarce.
American soldiers coming into the area requested cooked food (over canned rations) and brought with them bacon and powdered eggs.  From those humble beginnings, the Roman Italians creatively turned those ingredients into Spaghetti alla Carbonara!  And even if it didn’t really originate there, it’s certainly a wonderfully romantic history to hold onto!

Once I had pancetta in the house, the rest was a piece of cake…although next time, any good bacon will work, just not an overly smokey one, or not one with a really sweet cure either.   Every time I read the recipe, it sounded too easy to be true, and if it had been up to me,
we’d have had this dish several times in the past week.  I’m not so sure Bruce sees pasta as comfort food yet…  Maybe not. I waited though.  I knew I’d know when the time was just right, and I did.

Our ingredients aren’t many…pancetta or bacon (I was only able to get pre-sliced pancetta, no other option this time), 2 eggs (courtesy of my lovely hens), parmesan and romano cheese, a bit of garlic, a 1/4 cup of white wine, some olive oil and black pepper.  Oh, and spaghetti. While the water is heating and the spaghetti cooking, all the rest comes together really well.

I used a fairly deep ceramic bowl to mix the pasta, and I heated it with warm water before I started. When the spaghetti was just about finished cooking, I mixed my eggs, added the cheeses, mixed again then added the pepper and parsley (note to self…must plant twice as much Italian parsley as we have now).  I added the hot, drained pasta all at once and tossed with a fork a few turns, then switched to my favorite tongs. I always rather expected this to have a scrambled egg kind of effect, having never seen it in a restaurant.  Italian isn’t prevalent here.  I was rather surprised that I didn’t see that at all. After all was well mixed, I added the re-warmed pancetta-wine mixture to the spaghetti and tossed that together as well.

Oh. Oh my.  This was seriously good.  And very easy on a working gal.  Protein, carbs, protein, dairy.  Yeah.  A swimmer’s dream meal, no doubt!  Anyone who burns serious calories, this is a winner for them.  This would also be a dandy post-party nosh! A little carb, a little protein, a little good sleep food, soak up the happy juice and lead you off to sleppy-by land! LOL! Not that I would know about such things…I’m taking the Fifth…wait, oh…never mind…*giggle*  All I can say is this… I was tuckered…worn out…weary from the week, and after feasting on this, I slept like a 6 month old baby…perfectly content and soundly, all through the night.  I love this concept!

Tasting Notes~
We both had a problem with the pancetta being too salty for our tastes.  That could be because we eat a less salty diet than most folks do, or it could be the brand of pancetta, or it could be that it was somewhat dried out being sliced that way.  For what it’s worth, a lot of food is salty to us. Our solution is to reduce the pancetta by half next time if we can’t get a bulk slice, or to try bacon.  Even then, we’ll reduce the quantity of meat.  Bruce would also like me to try adding sauteed mushrooms to the dish.  While not “authentic” I don’t see any problem…then is just becomes Spaghetti alla carbonara con funghi or something like that!  LOL!  I think I’d start by sauteeing them before the garlic, then stir them back in with the wine.  I’ll let you know how that works out!!  This is a keeper..especially with the aforementioned modifications!




4 responses

6 04 2010

oh man. I skipped making this one. Better squeeze this dish in, looks awesome.

6 04 2010

I have been making this for probably 32 years, as long as we have been married. Do you know the writer Calvin Trillan? He wrote a piece around then about how Spaghetti Carbonara should be our National Thanksgiving Dish and we make it several times a year, but always, always on the night before Thanksgiving b/c of Trillan. He claimed thusly: The first people to discover American were the guys of Christopher Columbus’ voyage…Italians. The first thing they would have done when landing was light a fire, put on a big pot of water, and boil up the pasta. In another pan they would have made the eggs, bacon, parm cheese, a little garlic, all things that would have traveled well on those boats. Voila…Spaghetti Carbonara, the first dish served on American soil…and the true claimant to Thanksgiving fare in praise and Thanksgiving for a safe landing. Well, it’s fun anyway!

1 04 2010
Couscous & Consciousness

Glennis, you make this look every bit as good as I know it tastes. As you say this one is a keeper, and really does lend itself to springboarding into all sorts of not necessarily authentic but delicious modifications. I love the way that food and recipes evolve in that way.

31 03 2010

I agree…this was definitely a keeper. I had been expecting scrambled eggs with my baon but lucked out nicely. Yours looks so yummy.

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