Spaghetti alla carbonara
|Type||Primo or main course|
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Region or state||Lazio|
|Main ingredient(s)||eggs, bacon, black pepper, grated cheese|
|Variations||(US) peas, mushrooms, or other vegetables, cream|
Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Latium, and more specifically Rome, based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. Spaghetti is usually used as the pasta, however, fettuccine, rigatoni, or bucatini can also be used. The dish was created in the middle of the 20th century.
The pork is cooked in fat, which may be olive oil, lard, or less frequently butter. The hot pasta is combined with a mixture of raw eggs, cheese, and a fat (butter, olive oil, or cream) away from additional direct heat to avoid coagulating the egg, either in the pasta pot or in a serving dish. The eggs should create a creamy sauce, and not curdle. Guanciale is the most commonly used meat in Italy, but pancetta and local bacon are also used. Versions of this recipe may differ in how the egg is added: some people use the whole egg, while other people use only the yolk; intermediate versions with some whole eggs and some yolk are also possible.
Other variations on carbonara outside Italy may include peas, broccoli, mushrooms, or other vegetables. Many of these preparations have more sauce than the Italian versions. As with many other dishes, ersatz versions are made with commercial bottled sauces.
Origin and history
As with many recipes, the origins of the dish and its name are obscure.
The dish forms part of a family of dishes involving pasta with bacon, cheese, and pepper, such as spaghetti alla gricia. Indeed, it is very similar to the southern Italian pasta cacio e uova, dressed with melted lard and mixed eggs and cheese.
There are many theories for the origin of the name, which may be more recent than the dish itself. Since the name is derived from carbonaro (the Italian word for charcoal burner), some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. In parts of the United States the etymology gave rise to the term "coal miner's spaghetti". It has even been suggested that it was created as a tribute to the Carbonari ("charcoalmen"), a secret society prominent in the early, repressed stages of Italian unification. It seems more likely that it is an urban dish from Rome, although it has nothing to do with the homonym restaurant in the Roman Campo de' Fiori square.
Pasta alla Carbonara was included in Elizabeth David's Italian Food, an English-language cookbook published in Great Britain in 1954. However, the dish is not present in Ada Boni's 1927 classic La Cucina Romana and is unrecorded before the Second World War. It was first described after the war as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States.
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- Anthony F. Buccini, "On Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Related Dishes of Central and Southern Italy", in Richard Hosking, Eggs in Cookery: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2006, Prospect Books 2007, ISBN 1903018544, p. 36-47
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- David, Elizabeth (1954). Italian Food. Great Britain: Macdonald.
- Davidson, Alan (1999). Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford UP. p. 740. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
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