Carbonara is total hedonism in a bite. Pasta and pecorino cheese, what’s not to love? It’s the ultimate comfort food, with a forkful enough to make me throw my head back to the foodie gods in pure bliss.
There are competing theories around the dishes origin. A favourite – with the name of the dish derived from carbonaro (and the Italian word for ‘charcoal burner’), some believe it was first prepared as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers (with a spin-off being the abundant use of coarsely black pepper resembles coal flakes!).
Competing theories aside, to make this delicious dish, eggs, pecorino romano (a hard, salty cheese) and black pepper are mixed with hot cooked pasta, away from heat to avoid curdling. Fried cured fatty pork (typically guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheek), is added. Then, together with egg yolks which act as a powerful emulsifier, they bind into a silky smooth sauce.
While cream is known to be added to carbonara’s beyond the walls of Italy, be wary. We made this dish with a local Italian in Rome, who told us “if we ever added cream he’ll have Italian police arrest us”. Noted.