My current Facebook status reads “A Proper Carbonara is a thing of exquisite joy”.

And it really is.

Thing is, most people are only aware of the stuff you get in jars which contains cream, cheese, and other weird shit. I mean look at the ingredient list of Asdas Cabonara Sauce.

Water, Double Cream (15%) (Milk), Single Cream (15%) (Milk), Cooked Smoked Streaky Bacon (11%) (Pork Belly (98%), Salt, Sugar, Dextrose, Stabilisers (Tri and Polyphosphates), Antioxidant (Sodium Ascorbate),preservative (E250)), Pecorino Romano Medium Fat Hard Cheese (8%) (Milk), Grana Padano Medium Fat Hard Cheese (8%) (Milk), Mascarpone Full Fat Soft Cheese (7%) (Milk, Citric Acid), Modified Maize Starch, Garlic Puree, Cracked Black Pepper (0.1%).

Where are the eggs? Where all that cream and cheese comes from is beyond me and instantly negates the name ‘carbonara’. Call it something else. Creamy Bacon sauce, maybe? And isn’t it slightly disturbing that the main ingredient is water??

Now, it’s a fairly recent dish, 1950’s by all accounts and came about when American Miners requested Bacon and Eggs in an restaurant while working in Italy. The restaurant misinterpreted the request, adding pasta and mushing it all up. Adding black pepper was partly to disguise the coal soot the miners brought in, partly as homage to the miners.

What you need for an authentic carbonara is this:

Black pepper

You cook the bacon, throw in the cooked hot pasta along with a little of the pasta water, throw in the eggs and stir like crazy until the eggs are cooked. Grind black pepper over the top to taste.

If I’m feeling inauthentic, I’ll throw in a bit of garlic with the bacon, but if you have a good pancetta, this is completely unneccesary. Cheese isn’t essential nor is it authentic, but I do sometime sprinkle a bit of parmesan or gran panado over the top if I’m feeling saucy. But really, try this. Don’t be put of by the lack of cream or a conventional ‘sauce’. And don’t over cook the eggs.


Sorry vegetarians, there is no substitute for bacon, how ever you might attempt to convince yourself.


2 thoughts on “Carbonara.

  1. In "The Sims 3" your characters can make a dish called "Goopy Carbonara". I have never seen a carbonara without gallons of cream, which I don't like the taste of, so I've never eaten it. I am going to make your lovely and simple recipe this weekend – Thanks Will! ~Karen

  2. Tell me how it goes…. it's become a firm favourite of ours. Especially quick if you use shop bought fresh pasta rather than dried. The whole meal can be done in less than 5 minutes 🙂

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