Have you ever had the absolute pleasure and total luxury of eating a real spaghetti alla Carbonara? If you’re like me, you probably haven’t. Oh, I’d eaten plenty of buttery cream and bacon messes claiming to be carbonara, but I had never beheld the beautiful simplicity that is the authentic version of this classic Italian dish. All of that changed while we were in France and, craving something bacony and satisfying, I googled carbonara and came across this article.

For those that don’t read French, the gist of Floriana’s hilarious article is that all the French people making their “carbo” (the staple of the college student diet) need to put down the crème fraîche and lardons and back slowly away from the stove, leaving this dish for the grownups. Through a series of ever-escalating threats, she makes it known that she is not above causing physical injury to protect this proud Roman legacy from the careless, cream-covered hands of those who can’t appreciate its perfection.


You see, a real carbonara (she explains) has no cream, no added mushrooms or onions or other verdure, and certainly nothing as plebeian as bacon; you can use pancetta (or even better, guanciale) or you can go home. A real carbonara gets its creaminess from the vigorous beating of very fresh egg yolks mixed with copious amounts of real italian parmesan or, even more authentic, pecorino romano (this is a roman dish, after all). Having learned these lessons well, I set about making my first carbonara for us in France, and it was ridiculously simple and also entirely life changing. It’s now a go-to dish on our menu anytime I can lay my hands on some fresh eggs from the farmers’ market.

I know the idea of mixing pasta with fresh, raw egg yolks might sound a little scary, but trust me, the warm pasta will cook them enough to make them safe, and once you try this dish you will never doubt again. And, if there were any doubt as to the authenticity of this recipe, I was recently discussing my carbonara epiphany with an Italian colleague of mine who is from the roma region. When I told her I had made this dish for the first time a few months ago, her first question for me was “you didn’t put cream in it, did you?”, followed quickly by “please tell me you used pecorino romano”. So, I guess the verdetto is in– this is the real deal!


Spaghetti alla Carbonara

recipe translated (but not AT ALL adapted) from Floriana at Mangiare Ridere


1 Fresh egg yolk per person (they should be closer to orange than yellow) , plus 1 for the serving dish (if you’re making enough for 2, use 3 yolks, enough for 4, use 5 yolks

1 large hunk of pecorino romano cheese

100-120 g of long pasta per person (spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle all work)

High quality olive oil

5-6 oz pancetta, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

coarse salt, fresh ground black pepper

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

2) While water heats, beat egg yolks and freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (Floriana says to add in as much as makes you happy) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer. Season with a little salt and pepper, and beat until the mixture is creamy and small bubbles have formed

3) In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat a small amount of olive oil and add the pancetta. Sauté until pancetta is golden and crispy. Towards the end of the cooking time, add garlic and a little freshly ground black pepper. Cook for one minute or until garlic is softened and remove from heat.

4) Once the water has come to a boil, add a palmful of coarse salt, stirring to dissolve. Add pasta to water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 Tbsp of pasta water.

5) Add pasta water to egg mixture and whisk to combine. Delicately fold pasta into egg mixture until well coated. Carefully fold in pancetta and spoon pasta out into shallow bowls. Top with more freshly ground black pepper and additional pecorino romano if desired.

Buon appétito!