Tuesday, September 8, 2009
copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Spaghetti alla Carbonara has made a comeback in popularity. It was one of the dishes that I had not paid too much attention to. However on a recent visit to Italy many people began asking me about this dish and a few people requested learning the recipe at some of the culinary tours I hosted. I was somewhat perplexed, as if , almost out of nowhere, this recipe was experiencing a renaissance of interest. What was the real reason for this?
The 'rebirth' of the popularity of this dish began happening during and after the Presidential elections. And so was my answer uncovered, the newly elected President Barack Obama, began expressing his fondness for this dish to the media while in Italy.. As proud as the Italians are of any of their dishes, it was an honor for them to know that an American President was so fond of one of their dishes and thence began the rebirth of the popularity of this dish. The media would proclaim that even Barack Obama had a fondness for Italian cuisine, especially one of their traditional dishes.
The origins of this recipe are uncertain. There are 3 main theories, one is that it is called 'carbonara' because it was invented by the 'carbonai' the men who worked with carbone (coal). The other is that this dish was invented by a chef who was part of a group known as the 'carbonari' that is the men who fought in the war against the Austrian occupation of Northern Italy and for Italian independence.
The 3rd appears in 1945, when the American soldiers occupied Rome at the end of the Second World War they would ask for a breakfast of 'eggs, bacon and noodles'. They would be served these items separately on a large plate. For convenience sake they began mixing everything together and unknowingly created this dish.
The 4th theory is that it was invented by Ippolito Cavalcanti of Naples in 1837. He wrote a cookbook and it includes a recipe that is very similar.
One thing remains true, many people are passionate about their Spaghetti alla Carbonara. There are a few minor differences in the recipes that exist. Some prefer to add cream, some prefer no cream, some prefer to add more egg yolks and less egg whites, some prefer smoked bacon to regular bacon, some prefer pecorino-romano cheese,others prefer parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Either way it joins the ranks of one of Italy's delicious artisan dishes.
Stay tuned for a recipe for this wonderfu ldish in one of ny upcoming blog posts
Mangia bene, Vivi Bene,