The Origins of Carbonara

When it comes to Italian cuisine, few dishes evoke as much passion and debate as carbonara. This creamy, comforting pasta dish, typically made with eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, guanciale (cured pork cheek), and black pepper, is a staple in Italian restaurants around the world.


But is carbonara truly an authentic Italian dish? 


One popular story suggests that carbonara was created in the mid-20th century during World War II. According to this narrative, American soldiers stationed in Italy combined their rationed supplies of eggs and bacon with local pasta, leading to the creation of this now-famous dish. This theory is supported by the fact that carbonara doesn’t appear in Italian cookbooks before the 1940s.


Another theory posits that carbonara was named after the “carbonari,” Italian charcoal workers who supposedly prepared a simple, hearty meal of pasta with eggs and cheese while working in the Apennine mountains. This connection to the working class and the use of readily available ingredients lends a certain romanticism to the dish’s history.


Despite its debated origins, there is little doubt that carbonara has firmly rooted itself in Italian culinary tradition. The dish is particularly associated with the Lazio region, especially Rome. Over time, traditional Italian ingredients such as guanciale and Pecorino Romano have become integral to the dish, distinguishing it from the Americanized versions that might use bacon and Parmesan.


Italian chefs and home cooks alike adhere to strict rules when preparing carbonara: no cream, no garlic, and certainly no peas. The creaminess of authentic carbonara comes solely from the emulsion of eggs and cheese, a technique that requires skill to perfect.


At Da Mello, we continue the tradition by serving an authentic carbonara, made with the finest ingredients and prepared with the utmost respect for its storied history. Join us and savor a true taste of Italy with our classic carbonara. Buon appetito!


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