Carbonara wars: why Italy is right to be mad about a French farfalle travesty
A French websites reinvention of the traditional Italian dish has been condemned for its use of creme fraiche among other unholy tweaks. Heres my version of this gloriously simple dish
Nothing is so guaranteed to make the Italian blood boil like a well-salted pan of pasta as a foreigner fiddling with their food. So a French websites recipe for a one-pot carbonara (with farfalle, no less) was always going to go down badly in Italy where, inevitably, it has been met with outrage.
To be fair to the Italians, they have a point: carbonara, a Roman speciality, is claimed to have been the traditional favourite of Apennine charcoal burners, or carbonai, who needed a simple dish that could be prepared quickly over a campfire. If those guys could take two pans up the mountains on their grimy backs, then their Gallic neighbours, never people to shy away from overcomplicating things in the kitchen department, should surely be able to wash a couple up in the comfort of their Parisian apartments.
More importantly, the offending video (which has since, and wisely, been taken down) is a travesty against taste as well as tradition. Real carbonara relies on gently rendering the salty fat from pancetta, grating the cheese into fluffy clouds, infusing olive oil with a little garlic and then swiftly, decisively, tossing these with hot pasta and raw egg until the whole thing comes together in a rich savoury sauce. Its pure kitchen alchemy.
Boiling action-man bow ties in the same pan as bacon, onion and a bit of water is never going to produce anything half as glorious and as for adding creme fraiche and few mean shavings of parmesan, well, I cant put it better than one Italian Facebook user: Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Heres a version I hope they would approve of: