Pasta dishes… what do we really know about them? Sure, we all love a plate of penne ala pesto for lunch or a plate of macaroni and cheese for dinner. We ask for recipes from friends or download them from the Internet and try to innovate these recipes in our own kitchen, but they always seem to taste the same. Well, you know what they say, “it’s not an original unless you invented it.” So, unless you know where your pasta dish came from, you will never come up with an innovation in your own recipe.

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[one_half_last]One special favourite would be that of pasta alacarbonara. A lot of people mistake the word ‘carbonara’ to be the name of the pasta dish with white sauce and bacon, which it actually isnot. The word ‘carbonara’ was actually derived from the Italian word, ‘carbone’, which means “cooked on coal.”

Many stories about the origins of pasta alacarbonara have come and gone throughout the centuries, but most of them were only rendered theories and legends.One popular story would be that of the Appenine Mountains in the Abruzzo. These mountains are considered the Alps of Italy, and it’s the location of many small towns.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Back in the day, many woodcutters would create charcoal from the wood they cut and use that as fuel for their fires.They didnot really have much vegetables and other meat to make pasta dishes because of their slightly colder weather.

So, they would cook their dish over a charcoal fire and use penne pasta rather than spaghetti because it is easier to mix with eggs and cheese, which they did have.

The black specks would either be the flecks of ash from the burning charcoal. When people would say ‘alacarbonara’, they would actually mean, “the coal-worker’s style.”[/one_half]

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[one_half_last]This is highly imitated by restaurants by cooking the dish by just lightly dusting coarsely ground black pepper before serving.

Another theory about the origins about this decadent dish would lead back to the early 19th Century during the time when Italian revolutionaries, called the Carbonari (Italian for ‘charcoal burners’), fought for the independence of northern Italy from Austria. People say that a cook, who was a member of this group, invented this dish due to the shortages in food. The dish mainly consisted of boiled pasta, dried egg powder, and dried bacon mixed all together. Thus, pasta alacarbonara was born.

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[one_half]And yet, another theory states that during the German occupation of Rome of the province of Ciociaria during the World War II, the carbonara dish was discovered within a region called Lazio about halfway between the cities of Rome and Benevento.[/one_half]

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[one_half_last]Their pasta was seasoned in a Neapolitan style (eggs, lard, and pecorino cheese), so it was much creamier. That was the, so-called, origin of the “white, cream sauce.” However, when the American troops first entered Rome during1945, they complained about the dish because they were not used to its noodles and creaminess. So, they went to local restaurants (trattorias)and asked for a meal they were more used to: eggs, bacon and noodles (the Chinese-style noodles), which were more popular in America than the Italian ones. Local chefs tried to satisfy the Americans’ demands by making a dish with guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s cheeks), fried eggs and a plate of boiled spaghetti.[/one_half_last]

This was unseasoned and tasteless. The American soldiers mixed this all, thus creatingthe ancestor of the famous dish.However, the carbonara dish also has a weird story saying that the pasta dish was originated by the restaurant called Ilnuovocucchiaiod’argento (The Silver Spoon). It was actually cooked with black squid ink, and therefore got its name because it was “as black as coal.”

Pasta alacarbonara, as we all know it, is a white pasta dish with bacon bits and cheese. For a perfect pasta alacarbonara a chef allow the eggs to cook slightly but never scramble them.Keeping this in mind, it the cooking temperature exceed 70 degrees Celcius, so we only reach the cooking temperature of the yolk wherein it coagulates. After turning off the flame and seasoningthe bacon, throw in the pasta, and mix in the eggs quickly. You must serve the dish immediately to make sure the dough stays warm, while the eggs donot scramble.

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White cream is added and recommended in many recipes because the cream, when added in small amounts, helps to prevent the egg from scrambling. The amount of eggs added all depends on the chef and the number of people to be served. And, while the Italians use bacon of their choice depending on their region, normal store-bought bacon is alright to use. The best cheese of choice is Pecorino Romano, but all carbonara recipes go very well with good parmesan cheese or other pecorino cheeses.

You do not have to be in Italy to experience a great carbonara dish because with all this in mind, you should now be well-equipped to create an innovation in your own special pasta ala carbonara.

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