carbonara, the art of being – Italian Cuisine

carbonara, the art of being

bacon and egg, just the name makes us hungry, it reminds us of the small trattorias in Trastevere, the ones with the tables on the side of the road, the ones that when you pass in front of us you see pretty little women kneading. A warm climate that envelops you: there is a taste of history in the streets of Rome, of romance, all that is contained in a perfect bite of pasta carbonara.

But what is its history? It is said that it was the dish of the woodcutters of central Italy who ventured into the Apennine mountains to do charcoal. In fact, coal and carbonara, we are there. But the most accredited narrative is the one that derives from the legend dthe Roman innkeeper who with a nice flair attributed to his dish the name of his old work: the charcoal burner. The result was a first fatal meeting between the pasta, bacon and fresh eggs.

The pig cheekobviously a fundamental ingredient. Never trust anyone who offers you an alternative: an offense to the Romans. Bacon and bacon absolutely to be eliminated. However, the use of bacon is granted a historical attenuation: it seems to have been introduced in pasta sauces by allied American soldiers who, engaged during the Second World War on the Reinhard line, between Lazio, Molise and Campania, had the opportunity to taste and become attached to typical Abruzzese “Cacio e ova” pasta, to which they wanted to contribute with their typical product. "You fare spaghetti", this was the fateful phrase that triggered this Italian American mix, where their beloved bacon was inserted everywhere.

"Excuse me a moment, listen a little, but do you know how to make spaghetti carbonara?". He said Aldo Fabrizi in the famous comedy Good looking waitress offering herself …, but yes you know how to make it, but maybe you don't know very well which best pasta can make sparks fly. Spaghetti and rigatoni are the most coveted. Spaghetti obviously better if bronze-drawn, since this is what makes them more suitable for holding the sauce and those chosen to make it at home. But rigatoni are considered a classic, because the sauce hides the pasta in the vaults, giving it that inimitable flavor.

Let's clarify immediately. Pecorino cheese and not the Parmesan as many do. And not just any one: for the carbonara Doc it takes Pecorino Romano DOP.

But besides the classic, how many other versions do you know?

With all due respect to the purists, there are infinite variations of carbonara (also -ahinoi- with cream mixed with egg dressing): vegetarian carbonara, with peas and green beans or that with zucchini. Ah, that's not all, because there are those who prepare it with fish: carbonara marina, in fact, has its own audience of connoisseurs.

A question of technique

And here we come to the technique, a theme on which even the New York Times, thus giving carbonara a stars and stripes identity. Obviously the freshness of the ingredients is essential. The eggs they must be at room temperature and must only be cooked very quickly when they come into contact with very hot pasta. The browning of the pig cheek, on the other hand, it does not want oil or butter since it already independently releases the fat (which must be used), the pasta it must first be passed into the pan where the browned bacon lies and only afterwards it must be added to the mixture eggs and cheese. This is the fundamental step, summed up in a daring balancing act and a sudden movement. In fact, the mixture of egg yolks and cheese, mixing quickly: the still warm pan and the hot pasta lightly cook the eggs making them creamy. Be careful not to let them clot and make them take on the appearance of a scrambled egg, otherwise it's done.

Of Elena Strappa

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