Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Don’t ruin it! Italians tell foreigners secret to carbonara is ‘what you don’t put in it’

Published Apr 07, 2021 10:12 am Updated Apr 07, 2021 11:38 am

Italian gourmets celebrating April 6 one of the country’s classic pasta dishes—carbonara—had a simple message for foreigners: keep it simple, and don’t betray the tradition.

“The secret to a good carbonara... is more about what you don’t put in it, rather than what you put in it,” food journalist and carbonara expert Eleonora Cozzella told AFP.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the launch in Rome of the “CarbonaraDay,” a once-a-year online marathon of carbonara-themed events organized by Italy’s pasta makers’ association.

Classic carbonara, typical of Rome and its surrounding Lazio region, is made with eggs, pork cheek (guanciale), pecorino cheese and pepper. Italians get touchy when more ingredients are added to the mix. 

Earlier this year, a “Smoky Tomato Carbonara” recipe in the New York Times’ cooking supplement, which included tomatoes and replaced pork cheek and pecorino with bacon and parmesan, caused an uproar in Italy

Coldiretti, a farmers’ lobby, called the US recipe “a disturbing knockoff of the prestigious dish from Italian popular tradition,” and complained that carbonara was “one of the most disfigured Italian recipes.”

The carbonara recipe that caused an uproar in Italy.  Photo by David Malosh/New York Times

The dish actually owes its origin to the United States, as it was developed in Rome towards the end of World War II, when invading US soldiers brought bacon to poor and starving Italy.

A spokesman for the pasta-makers association, Matteo de Angelis, said even some old Italian recipes for carbonara—from the 1950s—included incongruous ingredients such as garlic and gruyere cheese.

Cozzella said she is “never scandalized” by unorthodox variations on carbonara. But she added: “Some versions may be seen as a homage, and other ones more as an insult.” 

“The important thing is never to cross the line that betrays the spirit of the dish. The problem is never tradition versus innovation, but tradition versus betrayal,” she concluded. (AFP)