Pasta alla Carbonara is one of the most renown dishes from Lazio and the city of Rome in particular.
There are various speculations about its origins, the main two are very different as one refers to the old job of charcoal burners and the other to Anglo-American troops in Rome during WWII.
The first idea is that this dish takes its name after “i carbonari” (charcoal burners) because when they made charcoal they had to monitor the coal for a long time and so it was important to have simple food to get enough energy and a simple pasta with eggs and cheese seemed to be one of their favourites.
The carbonara is considered as the evolution of a dish called “cheese and eggs”, originally from Abruzzo and Lazio, which charcoal burners used to take with them to work and eat cold, with their hands. When they had no eggs, then a simple “cacio e pepe” (cheese and pepper) would do!
The fact that the dish was recorded for the first time in the period immediately following the liberation of Rome in 1944, fuels speculations that Roman chefs came up with this recipe to respond to
the demand of Anglo-American troops for bacon, cheese, eggs and noodles.
No matter which story you prefer, there is no question that this dish is not only an Italian favourite, but now also an internationally popular dish.
*200 gr guanciale (unsmoked cured hog jowl) or pancetta
*450 gr spaghetti
*2 fresh eggs
*5 spoons Pecorino Romano, finely grated
*salt and pepper
*1 knob of butter
Cut the guanciale or pancetta into 1/3-inch dice, then cook in a skillet over moderate heat with a knob of butter, stirring, until the guanciale becomes golden brown and a little crunchy. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, whisk the eggs and grated Pecorino Romano with 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
Drain the spaghetti in a colander, then toss with the guanciale over a moderate heat until coated. Remove from the heat and add the egg mixture, tossing well to combine. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano and black pepper.