Tuesday, April 20, 2010

carbonara: cream or no cream?

I admit: this is not the prettiest picture of spaghetti alla carbonara on the face of the planet, nor is the pasta pictured here technically spaghetti, nor do I really care.  I was drunk when I took this picture, and more drunk when I made this carbonara, but this, my friends, is a sober moment, a moment in which I am about to reveal a deep dark secret.  Carbonara is not made with cream!  Cream is an abomination against the simplicity of this dish.  As Americans, however, we want to add cream and cheese to everything.  Why?   

To be honest, I am not sure why.  When the average American thinks of spaghetti alla carbonara, images of blissfully creamy & bacony noodles pop into the mind.  Should we blame it on the Olive Garden?  The Olive Garden mentality?  Or is there a more reasonable explanation?  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that traditional carbonara is very simple to make and very delicious.  This is what you do:

Boil some noodles.

Meanwhile, get some thick sliced bacon and cut it cross-wise into the thickest strips possible.

When the bacon has exuded some fat, whack in a couple-few whole cloves of garlic.  

(For more garlic flavor, whack the cloves with the side of your knife or the butt of your hand.)

Remove the garlic when the bacon is done.

More meanwhile: crack two to four eggs (per pound of pasta) into a big bowl and beat them until they are blended.

Finally, drain your pasta and slowly incorporate the hot noodles into the beaten eggs.  If you incorporate them slowly, you will not accidentally scramble your eggs.  

Once the pasta is nice and slathered with egg (and the hot pasta cooks the eggs, by the way), add the bacon (and peas if desired) along with the bacon fat and some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  


The eggs and the bacon grease combined form a really nice, glaze-y sauce.  The peas add a nice, sweet color and flavor accent.  

Finally, according to my sweetheart, ONE SHOULD NEVER ATTEMPT A VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN VERSION OF THIS DISH.  There's no point.  

She's right.  



earl parker said...

chef Simms made something like that once for us. I think he used a lot of flour, noodles, little green ball sized beans. I love people that can cook, cuz I hate restaurants. I have never been to a three Michelen star place, I would like to in my life. I will never be as great as Marco but maybe at literature: seeing as I'm almost done with a 46,000 plus word book that harshly makes fun of California, and it's cooking!! Fuck you everyone, I mean fuck you Marco, Jono should have the TV show that comes on right before yours. I would rather eat Chef Simms and Jono's food to tell you the truth to that fairy shit....

niina said...

Haha @ your S.O.'s comment. I'm only abstractly jealous, however; having been a veg for like six years or something, I only have a vague idea of how meat things should taste. Still, I appreciate the comment on food integrity and the American tendency to add cheese willy-nilly.