Where did the "alla carbonara" cooking style come from? Who invented carbonara, this simple and delicious dish? Well here is a page trying to figure out this mystery...

The first theory we hear about the famous and delicious spaghetti alla carbonara recipe, would be from people going to the woods, every year making coal ("carbone" in italian) from chopped down trees, for slow burning back home. This argument does not make sense to many, as that job implied being away from home for one complete season and the eggs could never keep for such long period of time without modern conservation techniques.

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, active from the end of 18th century all the way to the Italian independence.

According to the third theory, particularly interesting, the story of this dish dates back to 1945 when American troops entered Rome at the end of World War II. Apparently, they went to the Roman trattorias asked for a lunch they would be used to:  eggs, bacon and noodles, the Chinese-style noodles, at that time more in vogue in America than the Italian ones. 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 by creating, without them knowing, the ancestor of the famous dish.

Final hypothesis is traced back to the dish from Naples, to be exact to the Duke of Buonvicino Ippolito Cavalcanti, author in 1837 of "La cucina teorico pratica". It seems that already in early editions of this book we could read a recipe very similar to what we know today. As with the amatriciana, even spaghetti carbonara is the subject of endless discussions among culinary fans. The argument here hinges on what type of fat used (smoked bacon, pancetta or guanciale?) And especially if they did use the egg whites or not, cooked egg and did they use cream, and finally on the quality of the cheese.

In a well executed spaghetti alla carbonara a chef must not allow the eggs to scramble but only cook slightly, so with this objective in mind it should never exceed 70 degrees Celcius, so we do not reach the actual cooking temperature of the yolk. Then key here is that, after turning off the flame and seasoned your bacon, throw in the spaghetti pasta, mix quickly the eggs and serve immediately to make sure the dough stays warm, while the eggs dont scramble. The cream is recommended in many recipes because, when added in small amounts, it helps to prevent the egg from scrambling and adds a creamy texture to the sauce. The preferred quantity of eggs varies from one cook to another, many recommend that you use only the yolk, others remove only put the egg whites, and others to keep only one fourth of egg whites. In our view, the whites are needed to make the sauce more creamy, so we think that to feed 4 people a Chef can use either 3 eggs or 2 eggs and 2 yolks. In our opinion, the recipe for spaghetti alla carbonara should consider the use of good bacon, the hard to find high quality kind. The cheese of choice is Pecorino Romano, but the recipe can very well go with good parmesan cheese or other pecorino cheese.

Well this text was the result from the research I have conducted online to find the true origin of spaghetti carbonara. Which one is the true story of course doesn't really actually matter; just makes for an interesting conversation around a delicious carbonara plate, with appreciated guests!

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