Ah, Rome! The city of love, ancient history, and, most importantly, amazing food. I walked through the narrow streets of Rome in the early spring, taking in the sight of the balconies overflowing with early blooms and the Italians dressed like they had escaped a fashion show. Some wore “Cappottos” (coats) for the rain, while others sported tight pants and colorful dresses. The people here moved fast, as if they all had somewhere important to be. I struggled to keep up with the river of stylish Italians mixed with overweight, fast camera finger trigger, or simply confused tourists.
As we walked, a Vespa zoomed past us, and my heart skipped a beat. Watch out, they are really everywhere! In a matter of hours, we saw the Coliseum, the Fontana di Trevi, and the Vatican. I was too excited taking in the sights to think about food. Finally, hunger hit me all at once. I looked around, and there were places to eat on every corner. I fixed my eyes on one particular spot, a little door next to the flowers. My wife asked, “That one?” and I replied, “No, the one next to it, the dark entry.”
We walked in, and the waiter greeted us with a “Ciao.” He looked at us for a millisecond and knew we were foreigners, switching to English in an elegant but condescending way. Perhaps my Havaianas gave me away? He led us through a dark room full of Italians who dined while talking loudly, almost as if they were celebrating something. But it was just another Wednesday night in Rome.
Seated at a table, I scanned the menu, confused by the Italian names. The waiter pointed to a dish and, with a knowing nod, said one word: Carbonara.
Ten minutes later, he returned with the dish, no colorful add-ons or fancy garnishes, just a simple, unadulterated plate of Guancalle, eggs, cheese and perfectly cooked pasta. It was the definition of almost crunchy al dente heaven.
For almost a year, I had tried to replicate that carbonara recipe, and this is my humble interpretation. As that waiter would say, Buon Appetito.
- 200g spaghetti
- 2 Eggs
- 100g guanciale or pancetta (if in the US, just use Bacon)
- 50g grated pecorino romano cheese
- 50g grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper
- Dice the guanciale or bacon in small pieces
- Bring a large pot of salted water to an aggressive boil. Add a spoon of salt and a spoon of olive oil to it.
- Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 mins. (you can try 7 if you are brave)
- While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan, cook the diced guanciale or pancetta over medium heat, turn the pan off, let it cool down and add the fresh pepper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, grated pecorino romano cheese, grated parmesan cheese.
- When the pasta is done, with an spaghetti ladle slowly start transferring the pasta to the pan with the guanciale or bacon
- Carefully mix it in circular motion, incorporating slowly the egg mix until you coat the pasta evenly.
- If the mix seems dry, add a little of the pasta water with a spoon to the pan and toss again until a creaminess has been achieved. Careful to go too runny!
- Serve immediately with additional grated parmesan cheese.