Carbonara, in Don Giovanni (Madrid).

With an uncertain origin, this famous dish today is the object of multiple versions, which do not even carry pasta. And although there are those who use it, if it is without cream, better

Egg yolk, "guanciale", pecorino, black pepper and spaghetti. Although many are absolutely radical with that these are the unique and immovable ingredients of the carbonara - around which in a few years a whole myth worthy of praise has been created -, the truth is that there are no really old quotes about this unctuous and sweet pasta dish, but still many Romans consider it part of their DNA, defending their original recipe at all costs .

Perhaps the reference with more solera and similar products are maccheroni with cacio and uova that Neapolitan Francesco Palma described, in 1881 , in his Il principe dei cuoch i: cheese, eggs and lard on a plate of macaroni . And it is that the use of guanciale , that cured pork gill (not smoked), would not arise in the pasta proposals until later, in 1949, with the spaghetti al guanciale of Ada Boni in the book Il piccolo talismano della felicita , although not next to the egg.

Making memory

The truth is that much has been speculated about the origin or the first author of those spaghetti bathed in egg yolk sauce, and even not even his name -carbonara- is linked to it. Legend has it that it was some miners dedicated to coal who gave it a name when they saw the amount of black pepper that the dish they ate often .

Carbonara in classic version, in Lisanderella (Madrid).

Interestingly, the word came before in a film that in a kitchen manual : A maiden in distress ... ( Cameriera bella presenza offresi ... ), directed in 1951 by Giorgio Pastina and with Federico Fellini among his writers. Here is the scene: in a job interview, Maria, a waitress, is asked if she could do spaghetti alla cabonara and she denies any expertise in the matter. Just as shocking it turns out to know that the first formulation with that name appeared, in 1952, in the US by Patricia Bronté , who in a restaurant guide in Chicago wrote its ingredients by citing a dish that was named in the Armando's restaurant. , in The City of the Wind, and that probably would have been seen before in a dining room in Rome.

The first appointment collected in an Italian gastronomy book with spaghetti, egg, bacon, gruyere cheese and garlic dates from 1954 , and years later, in 1960, Luigi Carnacina replaced - in La grande cucina - the bacon for the guanciale . Later, some cooks would incorporate the cream - that which so many detest and that they consider almost heresy -, that would happen to appear in notable Italian recipes, for example, in those of Walter Marchesi , considered the founder of modern Italian cuisine.

We cannot talk about carbonara without mentioning what the multi-award-winning Tunisian chef Nabil Hadj Hassein prepares at the Roman restaurant Roscioli . Praised by professionals and gourmets, his secret -confies the business boss, Alessandro Roscioli- lies in using an iron skillet in which the Montecorvo guanciale is skipped, using a mix of Sarawak and Sichuan peppers, using Benedetto spaghettoni Cavalieri and not add any water, but make it in the own fat of the guanciale and, of course, keep it cold.

With bluefin tuna and mullet tartare, in Noi (Madrid).

Capital track

And from the Eternal City to the Forum, where we find proposals of height in the classical style. For example, Lisanderella, where they use Lombard guanciale , camperos egg yolks, Sardinian pecorino and pepper and finish the recipe on the table , in front of the diner, so that it retains all its creaminess. In Nina Pasta Bar , Adriana Restano opts for Gragnano's hard-grained pasta that comes from Benevento and Roman guanciale that slices and fry to make it crispy, resulting in a creamy and very tasty sauce. It is impossible not to review the original carbonara that in El Bacaro de Fabio Gasparini defend layer and sword. The spaghetti of Trattoria Manzoni, prepared with fresh pasta instead of dried as tradition dictates, are also very remarkable and balanced.

More orthodoxy is in the proposal of Pasta Mito, in the Mercado de Chamartín, whose carbonara highlights a good amount of black pepper, the yolk of the poultry, the Parmesan (instead of pecorino), the guanciale and the butter infused with Cured pork gill . Matteo Cucina Italiana is also noteworthy. In this place in the Mercado de la Paz, we bet on using the handmade pasta that they make every day with organic flour . And some canonical spaghetti carbonara serve in Sottosopra, a Trasteverina embassy in the Barrio de Salamanca .

We jump to Barcelona, BarcelonaMilano , where they claim to make the "authentic spaghetti carbonara", bathed in a sauce in which a good egg yolk is perceived above all. Meanwhile, in La Gallina Bianca (Seville) opt for rigatoni cooked with all the most classic ingredients .

Leeks, smoked eagle, apple, fennel and carbonara, in Cocinandos (León).


As usual in the world of gastronomy, many versions emerge from classical elaborations and carbonara was not going to be an exception . Thus, it has gone from being a simple dish in itself to becoming a creation that has acquired different dimensions, especially from the hands of great Italian masters. For example, chef Mauro Uliassi (Uliassi, in Senigallia, Ancona) defended a "carbonara del mar" , made with fish roe, cod guts and turbot skin; Antonello Colonna (with a restaurant of the same name in Rome) proposed us ravioli filled with the carbonara itself and finished with sour cream and Massimo Sola (MAMO Restaurant, New York) opted for one that contained an egg yolk worked at low temperature and crumble de guanciale .

Already on Spanish soil, Gianni Pinto dispatches in Noi (Madrid) some spaghetti with red tuna tartare marinated in miso and botarga de mújol . Also in the capital, Andrea Tumbarello (one of the great precursors of quality carbonara in our country) incorporates in the letter of Don Giovanni a Marbonara , from tuna, botarga, egg and pepper, in addition to a Bosconara, starring the black truffle, which is known as the king of this mushroom for a reason. Delicate and tasty is the proposal of Davide Bonnato in Gioia : an unstructured carbonara with bigoli (thicker spaghetti), low temperature egg yolk, grated pecorino and coal crumble .

Beyond Spaghetti

Pasta aside, its eternal partner, carbonara has become the key sauce of many other preparations . Like the traditional one that bathes the delicious asparagus - cut in very thin slices and to which rib rilette and salmon roe are added - that Dani Carnero makes in La Cosmopolita (Málaga) or the artichokes roasted and covered with a homemade bacon butter, Egg foam, Parmesan and thin bacon slices that are offered seasonally in Cruix (Barcelona).

Macaroni carbonara, in Enjoy (Barcelona) .Francesc Guillamet

In Huerta de Carabaña (Madrid), Ricardo Álvarez separates and laminates the stem of the broccoli flower (with which he makes a very delicate couscous), which jumps with cured jowls, ends with the classic mixture of yolk and pecorino - always outside the fire- and crown with couscous. In a contemporary key, in the capital Alabaster they prepare a leek with celery carbonara, smoked eel -which gives the dish a very particular flavor-, truffle melanosporum and cream.

A similar air is perceived in the creation that Yolanda León and Juanjo Pérez serve in Cocinandos (León) from leek, carbonara, smoked eel, apple and fennel. Meanwhile, in Ikaro (Logroño) you choose a thistle whose sauce is prepared with bacon, onion, cream and egg yolk until you get a creamy texture . In A'Barra they choose to laminate a white asparagus from the orchard of La Catedral and finish it with an emulsified carbonara and caviar.

However, not everything is going to be vegetables and fish: in Lakasa, from Madrid , César Martín opts for some beef dumplings , whose sauce is a grateful tribute to Andrea Tumbarello, and recently Javi Estévez (La Tasquería) offered some off the menu Succulent lamb gizzards with carbonara and truffle .

Mullet on carbonara of its interiors, in La Salita (Valencia).

In the haute cuisine

And how to forget the macaroni of Enjoy (Barcelona) , a dish that combines technique and flavor and game with the diner, since the waiters mix on the table the pasta made from gelatinized ham broth with carbonara foam, the guanciale and a butter infused with bacon .

More avant-garde by Paco Pérez, who uses espardeña as spaghetti and emulsifies it with a white carbonara in Miramar (Llançà, Gerona) ; by Martín Berasategui, who serves an egg yolk bathed with aromatic herbs carbonara , unctuous veil and smoked cheese in Etxeko (Madrid), and Paco Roncero ( Paco Roncero restaurant ), who has given a couple of turns to his Pizza Carbonara , which now ships -in its tasting menu- star-shaped and finished with Iberian double chin,

Begoña Rodrigo ( La Salita, Valencia) uses only the salsa format, which emulsifies with the interiors of a mullet . In Mediamanga (Barcelona) they opt for oyster carbonara - using the authentic Roman recipe - a dish that somehow evokes the black spaghetti to the oyster carbonara that Niko Romito signed in Reale (Castel di Sangro) and that many hearts conquered .

He has even found his place in desserts. In 2017, Jordi Roca finished some menus of El Celler de Can Roca with a banana with vanilla carbonara, with a spicy point and grated truffle above . You know, with carbonara, everything is possible!

Pizza carbonara, in Paco Roncero Restaurant (Madrid).

Increasingly purist recipe

When was carbonara born? Shortly after the liberation of Emilia-Romagna at the end of World War II, in Riccione, the chef of Bologna Renato Gualandi prepared a lunch in which were the Eighth English Navy and the Fifth American Navy . The chef decided to use some of the ingredients that the Americans brought and make with them a paste: bacon, cream, cheese and egg yolk powder, all topped with black pepper on top . For this special occasion, Gualandi used the products he had on hand, interpreting them with that Italian heritage of cacio and uova and thus created a purely Roman recipe , which the Americans and the rest of the world wanted to export.

From 1955 it was extended to almost all Roman trattorias , making room in the heart of Lazio, where they have standardized their ingredients and consider cream an insult rather than a contribution. In the 90s a crusade began in defense of a "pure" carbonara . Thus, the basic ones of the classic formula would be: spaghetti, primordial because they absorb the sauce, although another pasta (always dry ) could be accepted ; one egg yolk per person; 40 grams of sautéed roasted guanciale ; 15 grams of Roman pecorino (it has more power than Parmesan) mixed with egg yolks and enough black pepper. And very important, you always have to keep the pasta with the mix of egg and cheese out of the fire to get an almost addictive creaminess .

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