Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most famous Italian dishes known all around the world. Famous dishes are often accompanied by different stories as to their origin.
Two of the most plausible theories are the following:
During WWII when the American soldiers were stationed in Italy, a Roman cook from one of the taverns used what was familiar to these homesick men and created this iconic dish made with eggs, guanciale and cheese. The aroma of the guanciale reminded the men of what was way too familiar to them at home, bacon. To this Pecorino Romano was added and lots of pepper.
Another very plausible theory is that this dish had birth in the Lazio way before WWII. Pasta "Cacio e Ova" (pasta with cheese and eggs) was a typical dish served in this region of Italy, an ancient customary dish of the locals.
Why Carbonara? In Italian coal workers are called CARBONAI. Is it possible that the name might derive from these workers, the carbonai? As the Carbonai, (coal workers) would head out to make coal, they would bring this egg and cheese dish with them and cover it up with black pepper. Could the color of the pasta covered up in black pepper be reminiscent of the black coal they were working with? Who knows? Later on, during WWII the guanciale was added to the Cacio e Ova to make the homesick soldiers happy with this perfect duo of their beloved EGGS and BACON.
Begin to boil a pot of water for the spaghetti. Make sure to add salt to the water.
Slice the pancetta into small cubes, place them on a cookie sheet and set in the oven for about 7 minutes or until the meat is browned.
In a bowl place 3 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks. Beat well until the eggs are a creamy consistency. Traditionally only egg yolks are used.
Add the Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano to the egg mixture. Mix well.
The black pepper and salt can be added to the eggs at this time. Traditionally lots of black pepper is added to the dish.
Place the spaghetti into the salted boiling water.
Take the meat out of the oven.
Temper the eggs with a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta. To do this, slowly add the hot water as you mix the eggs.
Add the meat to the egg mixture and stir everything well.
Take the pasta out of the water making sure it is 'al dente' and immediately stir everything together. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. You can also strain the spaghetti and place them in the pan with the bacon or pancetta stirring everything evenly before adding the hot pasta to the eggs.
Our spaghetti alla Carbonara are now ready to be served right away! Enjoy!