Toscana‘s Gigio Longo: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is a dish that reminds me of my childhood spending time in Rome during the summers. Carbonara is a dish that I’ve tried in the U.S. at many fine establishments but it’s rarely prepared quite right. Either the eggs are overcooked, there’s ham instead of guanciale, parmesan instead of pecorino or there’s cream in it which makes it really heavy.
The dish has an interesting and conflicting origin and history. The first theory is that people went into the woods to make coal (“carbone” in Italian) from chopped down trees, for slow burning back home. They would pack the dry goods, spices, cured meats and have live chickens to produce the eggs.
The second theory suggests that the carbonara was invented by a cook who was a member of the Carbonari, the group of Italian revolutionaries who fought against the Austrian occupation of northern Italy, from the end of the 18th century all the way until the Italian independence.
The third theory is particularly interesting because it has an American influence, dating back to World War 2, when American troops entered Rome. Apparently, the Americans went to the Roman trattorias and asked for a lunch they would be used to: eggs, bacon and noodles. The Roman chefs tried to satisfy their demands as well as they could with guanciale, fried eggs and a plate of spaghetti unseasoned and therefore tasteless. To remedy this tastelessness, the American soldiers mixed it all up and thereby, unknowingly, actually created the famous dish we all love today.
Enjoy my Spaghetti Alla Carbonara!
Toscana’s Gigio’s Authentic Roman-Style Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
- 4 ounces guanciale, diced
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
- black pepper
- In a large pan, fry the guanciale over medium-high heat until rendered and crisp, about 10 minutes.
- Beat eggs and pecorino together in a small bowl with a fork and then set it aside.
- Cook the spaghetti to al dente.
- Then drain the spaghetti, return the pasta to the pot, toss with guanciale and rendered fat over low heat.
- Turn the heat off of the burner, pour the egg/cheese mixture over the spaghetti in the pot, add black pepper to taste and quickly mix with a fork to slightly cook the eggs with the hot pasta. The result should be creamy, not dry.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!