Carbonara: history and recipe of a famous Roman dish

Everyone loves Carbonara. Always considered one of the traditional dishes of Roman cuisine, its origins, however, are Neapolitan.

Its birth is recently, about 1944 when an American soldier came in Italy. In fact, the American troops liked very much our stalls where you can found original “street food” like pizza, supplì and specially spaghetti. They were served with cacio and pepe (cheese and pepper) sauce because tomato was prohibited (it stained white aprons).

So, in the famous image of Pulcinella who eats spaghetti with the hands we can notice how the pasta is white!

Carbonara – A bit of history

Back at the history, in the 1944 an American soldier sorted spaghetti but it was so poor that he added at the pasta his ration K, the preparation for all soldiers. It was composed by powdered eggs, bacon and liquid cream. The result was perfect… Carbonara was born like this, almost by accident!!

The news ran in all the district and everyone wanted to taste this new dish. After this, the recipe got better and all ingredients balanced.

On 1946 the dish had already spread to Rome, after its release. The first tavern which served Carbonara in Rome was been in the Vicolo della Scrofa. The dish later has also spread in the rest of Italy and in the rest of the world.

From the other version, carbonai (charcoal burner), also called carbonari in Rome, invented Carbonara. They prepared this dish from ingredients easy to find and store. It can be an evolution from a dish of ancient Lazio origins called “cacio e ova” (cheese and eggs). According to this theory, black pepper of the Carbonara would resemble the same soot-stained charcoal burners.

Carbonara – The sauce of Italian traditional cuisine

Whatever its origin, one thing is certain: Carbonara has become and is a great classic of Italian traditional cuisine! Everyone loves this dish and everyone try to copy it, but only Italians know how to cook it really well! There are many variants in which someone use bacon rather than guanciale (cheek) or who use zucchini rather than bacon (on vegetarian style).

The sauce for the Carbonara is ready in a couple of minutes. All what we need is guanciale (spiced, cut into strips), cream on a base of egg yolks (in our version) and a lot of grated Parmesan (Pecorino) cheese.

In its simplicity and wealth of raw materials, the recipe of Spaghetti alla carbonara is a close relative of the other two authentic Italian recipes: the Amatriciana and Gricia!

Carbonara – The recipe


500 g of spaghetti

150 g of bacon

200 g of parmesan cheese (or half of parmesan and half of pecorino cheese if you find it)

4 yolks

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparing time 15 min

Cooking time 10 min

Serves 4


Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Once it’s boiling, add salt, put spaghetti and cook as long as it says on the package.

Meanwhile water boiling, chop the 150g guanciale in 1 cm thick cubes. Clearly, you had first removed any rind. Add some pepper and fry bacon in a pan about 5 minutes, but be careful not to get it burned.

Subsequently, grate parmesan (parmesan + pecorino) cheese. After that, take yolks and mix them with parmesan (parmesan + pecorino) cheese and sprinkle a lot of pepper in a bowl.

Mix spaghetti with bacon and take them off from the fire. Add the mixture of yolks and cheese and add two cup of cooking water. Keep going to mix so fast.

Serve immediately with grated cheese on.

Share your dish with us on Instagram!

Enjoy your Carbonara!

Related post

  • amatriciana

    Amatriciana: the real flavor of Rome

    Amatriciana is one of those recipes that has got an eternal aura that defies the...

  • tiramisù

    Tiramisù: the italian’s dessert that makes you emotional

    Tiramisù is the quintessential Italian dessert. Its name hints at its energizing effects, despite sounding...

  • ragù alla bolognese

    Ragù alla bolognese: a must of traditional Italian cuisine

    Ragù alla bolognese is one of the sauce most characteristic of Italian cuisine is what...