Pasta alla carbonara is a dish that people tend to associate with the history of Italian gastronomic culture. However, the story of this dish is quite different:
The most famous meeting between pasta and egg dates back to 1778, when Vincenzo Corrado, Neapolitan cook and scribe, wrote about a recipe in the book “Il cuoco Galante”, where pasta was cooked in capon broth and served with egg yolks or without.
In 1839, in the book “Cucina teorico-pratica” by Ippolito Cavalcanti, appeared the first association of pasta-egg-cheese. But it is only in 1881 that the first association between pasta-egg-cheese-pork fat comes closer to carbonara (in the book “Il principe dei cuochi” by Francesco Palma).
In 1950 an article named “Trastevere’s national holiday” referred to a restaurant in the capital, which was the first to welcome American officers landed in Italy in 1943 against fascists and Nazism, where they asked to eat “spaghetti alla carbonara”.
The history of this preparation is very much linked to the presence of the American army who, in addition to distributing cigarettes, chocolate tablets and chewing gum, exchanged their individual rations containing bacon and powdered eggs, that ended up on the black market “carbonaro”. Many testimonies have been collected from tavern owners who prepared the first “carbonara” with bacon and powdered eggs, on the request of soldiers who asked for spaghetti breakfasts. In this context carbonara was born, an expression of Italian creativity and genius inspired by American logistics.
Some believe carbonara takes its name from Carbonarismo, a dish consumed during meetings of the members of the political movement present in Italy in the first half of the 19th century. The hypothesis is that a chef from Carbonia (a Sardinian city) invented it during the time he was working in Rome.
Although, the name could have originated from the fact that the ingredients came from the black market called “carbonaro”, a market supplied mostly by the American armies.
The idea of carbonara we imagine today, saw the light at the end of the 70’s, when the eggs were used raw (later only the yolks), cheese used was only pecorino or a mixture of pecorino and parmesan, and guanciale was established as the most suitable cured meat for this dish.
Carbonara Club, born in 1998, proposed in 2012 to close the issue of various versions spread throughout the territory by codifying a mediated recipe which winks at the tradition and the need of a contemporary restaurant.
Yield: 4 servings.
- 400 g of spaghetti
- 250 g of guanciale
- 1 whole egg + 3 egg yolks
- 210 g of pecorino
- 40 g of Parmigiano Reggiano 24 mois
- 20 g of freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the guanciale into pieces of about 1 cm. Brown the pieces over high heat in a pan, without adding any fat. As soon as it is well coloured and all the fat has dissolved, let it caramelise in its fat over very low heat for about 10 minutes. As soon as the pieces are nicely crisped, leave them warm without throwing away the melted fat created in the pan.
- Grate the two cheeses and mix them together.
- Drop the spaghetti into a saucepan filled with boiling, salted water.
- In a salad bowl, beat the eggs adding three quarters of the cheese and pepper, then mix everything together. (There is no need to salt the recipe, the cheese and guanciale will do the trick)
- When the pasta is al dente (do not forget to put a few ladles of boiling water on the side) pour it directly into the salad bowl with the eggs, cheese and pepper, and mix well.
- Let stand for 1 minute, then add the crispy, still-warm guanciale. Make circular motions from top to bottom, in order to create an emulsion with the beaten eggs, cheese, guanciale and its fat.
- Work fairly quickly, adding a little cooking water to create the right creaminess. The whole success of this dish is played out in just 1 minute.
- Serve immediately adding pepper and cheese.