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Eat “carbonara” in Rome
Pasta alla carbonara (usually spaghetti, but also fettuccine, rigatoni or bucatini), is an Italianpasta dish based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. The dish was created in the middle of the 20th century.
The pork is fried in fat (olive oil or lard), then hot pasta is dropped into the pan to finish cooking for a few seconds. A mixture of raw eggs, cheese, and a fat (butter, olive oil, or cream) is then combined with the hot pasta away from additional direct heat to avoid coagulating the egg, which must remain a liquid component of the sauce as it cooks.Guanciale is the most usual meat, but pancetta, or local bacon are also used.
Cream is not common in Italian recipes, but is often used elsewhere. 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
Like most recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure, and there are several stories about it. As 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. The etymology gave rise to the term “coal miner’s spaghetti”, which is used to refer to spaghetti alla carbonara in parts of the United States. It has even been suggested that it was created by, or as a tribute to, the Carbonari (“charcoalmen”), a secret society prominent in the unification of Italy. It seems more likely that it is an urban dish from Rome.
Carbonara was included in Elizabeth David’s Italian Food, an English-language cookbook published in Great Britain in 1954. 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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