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"Authentic": what does that mean, anyway?


Chris Amirault
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28 minutes ago, jimb0 said:

she's extremely explicit about what traditional carbonara is,

 

Of course she's wrong about that too; it traditionally uses pecorino, a totally different cheese, and  one which was way more available in Lazio.

 

Now, had you read the recipe, before leaping to castigate us...

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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4 hours ago, Anna N said:

But I am pretty certain during the massive immigrant influx into New York City at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Italians adapted. Just as they adapted and adopted tomatoes in the 15th or 16th century. Try to imagine Italian cuisine without tomatoes.

 

People going purist with carbonara is a puzzling thing. There are no written records about carbonara before WWII. The most accepted version of its history is that it was born as emergency food during the end of WWII: people had few food to eat, mostly stuff given by the American troops. So they made a pasta using dried eggs and smoked bacon. It tasted good and they kept doing it after the war, with some changes out of necessity (plenty of guanciale, not much bacon, after the American troops went home). Claiming you absolutely need guanciale is a non-sense, since it was born with smoked bacon. Claiming it's an old old old tradition is non-sense, like for tiramisu. It's something that had instant success and got widespread because of its ease of execution, then people started to think "if everyone is doing it, then it must be an old old old tradition". Not that much.

 

The guys at the NYT should answer with this link (1.900.000 pages talking about "carbonara vegana", most of them in Italian language).

 

 

 

Teo

 

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14 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

Of course she's wrong about that too; it traditionally uses pecorino, a totally different cheese, and  one which was way more available in Lazio.

 

Now, had you read the recipe, before leaping to castigate us...

 

i almost pre-empted that argument, because i knew you were going to point it out. but since you insist, that's a more recent adaptation.

 

one of the first published recipes for carbonara used, of all things, gruyère.

 

"The appearance of the first carbonara recipe, similar but not identical to the one we know today, dates from August 1954, when it was published by food magazine La Cucina Italiana. The ingredients were: spaghetti, egg, pancetta, gruyere and garlic."

 

a huge number of recipes call for using parmesan or a blend, not solely pecorino.

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29 minutes ago, teonzo said:

talking about "carbonara vegana", most of them in Italian language).

I only read through a few of these and most of them are vile. If I were to go vegan I would follow the example of @shain Her vegan dishes are layers of flavor, texture, and color and they are not pale limitations of classic dishes. But your point is taken. Even the Italians are messing with the traditional.

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Right, there are no exacts.  That's why I laugh at the locals calling bullshit in that video as if defenders of the Italian food commandments.   More about pride and ego.  The Naples pizza police is another one.

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That wasn't chicken

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1 hour ago, teonzo said:

People going purist with carbonara is a puzzling thing.

Thanks for your input. This was exactly my understanding of the origins of the dish but I did not want to put my foot in it! 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

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1 hour ago, haresfur said:

If the New York Times stuck to classics,

I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that if you put rabbit in it, don't call it venison stew because most people don't like to find hare in their stew.

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@teonzo

would you mind explaining or perhaps I should say translating the word carbonara?  

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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A quote from the article cited by @Tropicalsenior:

 

"The salty, fatty mass that is spaghetti carbonara is a dish that’s about exploring the outer limits of salty and creamy indulgence within a pasta framework. "

 

Gag me with a spoon. If that's supposed to be an appealing description of carbonara, well, maybe a tomato wouldn't be such a bad thing. Those three chefs from the Roman kitchen? I don't need proof that they sit around drinking expensive wine and making fun of their own staff.

 

The truth is I've never even eaten Spaghetti Carbonara; it just isn't something I would order or make. I have no doubt that if a talented person made it with farm fresh eggs and good guanciale and pecorino and freshly ground black pepper and put it down in from of me  I would happily eat it.  

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18 minutes ago, Anna N said:

@teonzo

would you mind explaining or perhaps I should say translating the word carbonara?  

 

 

 

 

image.jpeg

 

lol

 

joking aside its my understanding it comes from carbonaro, or some kind of charcoal lamp or burner

 

 

edit: in fairness, though, i don't speak italian, only french.

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5 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

it just isn't something I would order or make.

I've made a lot of it working in restaurants, but I have to admit, it's not something that I will make it home nor will I order it out. I can't say that I would give that description to anything that we sent out, but she's got the ingredients right.

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17 minutes ago, Anna N said:

would you mind explaining or perhaps I should say translating the word carbonara?  

 

There is no clear explanation for the name of this pasta.

"Carbonara" is an adjective that can have these meanings:

- related to Carboneria, a secret society that was created in Naples a couple centuries ago, some people say that some old Neapolitan recipes are the ancestors of the actual pasta alla carbonara, since they used an egg sauce;

- related to "carbonari" (= charcoal makers), some people say that pasta alla carbonara was created by the charcoal makers in central Italy (copying the story for gricia and amatriciana);

- related to "carbone" (= charcoal), referring to the lots of black pepper.

I would vote for the third.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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I actually enjoy this video series. To should remember that this is entertainment, most Italians (and probably those on the show as well) are not that emotional about traditionallity of dishes. Do Italians care about their traditional dishes and wish to keep them, sure. I assume they may also feel like non Italians are misunderstanding those dishes and find it amusing or sad.

I know I do when I'm see (for example) hummus (a dish close to my heart) eaten as a dip, or flavored untraditionally - not because I find it offensive (I like to experiment and be creative with it as well) but rather because I wonder if those making it had ever had the traditional "real thing".

And with so many recipes that claim to be "the real thing" and are truly way off, you can be sure many people concluded that they dislike carbonara without ever having a proper one (imagine someone only ever having mcdonald's as their reference for a burger).

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1 hour ago, Tropicalsenior said:

If I were to go vegan I would follow the example of @shain Her vegan dishes are layers of flavor, texture, and color and they are not pale limitations of classic dishes.

Thanks! But I do understand those who wish to have a proxy of dishes that they cannot have. Especially since those making carbonara vegetariana probably grow up eating it, and now can not. I have made my fair share of dishes that are a take on non vegetarian dishes - I just try to pick my wars wisely.

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~ Shai N.

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15 minutes ago, teonzo said:

 

There is no clear explanation for the name of this pasta.

"Carbonara" is an adjective that can have these meanings:

- related to Carboneria, a secret society that was created in Naples a couple centuries ago, some people say that some old Neapolitan recipes are the ancestors of the actual pasta alla carbonara, since they used an egg sauce;

- related to "carbonari" (= charcoal makers), some people say that pasta alla carbonara was created by the charcoal makers in central Italy (copying the story for gricia and amatriciana);

- related to "carbone" (= charcoal), referring to the lots of black pepper.

I would vote for the third.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Thanks. The charcoal interested me. When I think of charcoal I think of smoke. When I think of smoke I think of bacon. Seems that smoked meat is a no-no in this dish. A bit odd if it really did originate with charcoal makers. Coupled with its close association with Americans and their bacon and eggs…… Well you can see where my mind is going. Carrry on. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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2 hours ago, teonzo said:

 

The most accepted version of its history is that it was born as emergency food during the end of WWII:

 

Claiming you absolutely need guanciale is a non-sense, since it was born with smoked bacon.

 

 

Of course, trusting a Venetian about Roman pasta dishes...😊.

 

29 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

A quote from the article cited by @Tropicalsenior:

 

"The salty, fatty mass that is spaghetti carbonara is a dish that’s about exploring the outer limits of salty and creamy indulgence within a pasta framework. "

 

Gag me with a spoon. If that's supposed to be an appealing description of carbonara, well, maybe a tomato wouldn't be such a bad thing.

 

It's far from that when properly made.

 

16 minutes ago, teonzo said:

 

- related to "carbone" (= charcoal), referring to the lots of black pepper.

I would vote for the third.

 

 

Charcoal and its relation to the dish sound reasonable; however, the "most accepted" version I am seeing, going through a dozen or so references, is that the miners in the Apennines would take with them to camp long-lasting ingredients (like they do in Australia). Dry pasta, cured pork, Pecorino, pepper, eggs or chickens and make a pasta out of that.

No cream for sure.

 

3 minutes ago, shain said:

I know I do when I'm see (for example) hummus (a dish close to my heart) eaten as a dip, or flavored untraditionally - not because I find it offensive (I like to experiment and be creative with it as well) but rather because I wonder if those making it had ever had the traditional "real thing".

And with so many recipes that claim to be "the real thing" and are truly way off, you can be sure many people concluded that they dislike carbonara without ever having a proper one (imagine someone only ever having mcdonald's as their reference for a burger).

 

right - why not start with the real thing, and then riff off that?

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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8 minutes ago, Anna N said:

When I think of smoke I think of bacon. Seems that smoked meat is a no-no in this dish.

 

Where I live, if you go to the butcher and say you want to make carbonara, then he will give you smoked pancetta. That's the "tradition" here in Veneto. In Lazio they switched from bacon to guanciale because that's what was common there for pasta (gricia and amatriciana). There are absolutely no records of something similar to pasta alla carbonara before WWII, lots of people spent lots of time researching and found nothing. There are/were living witnesses of people making that pasta using the American food supplies at the end of the war. So it's almost impossible the name came from the secret society or from the charcoal makers.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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10 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Of course, trusting a Venetian about Roman pasta dishes...😊.

 

I'm just reporting all the infos that were published in the food media in the past years. There was a big fuss about this, because well, for many people saying that carbonara was created with American war food supplies is like killing your grandma. But all researches point in that direction.

 

 

 

12 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Charcoal and its relation to the dish sound reasonable; however, the "most accepted" version I am seeing, going through a dozen or so references, is that the miners in the Apennines would take with them to camp long-lasting ingredients (like they do in Australia). Dry pasta, cured pork, Pecorino, pepper, eggs or chickens and make a pasta out of that.

 

That is the story for gricia, mainly.

It could be a good explanation for carbonara too, but there are no real proofs for this. Nothing was ever recorded or mentioned anywhere. No people recalling eating that before WWII. If it was a traditional recipe originating before WWII then it would be easy to find a mention here or there, but nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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So, many years ago, in a local Italian restaurant, my wife ordered a Caesar salad.  It came and it was made with iceberg lettuce.  She complained to the waitress, who told her that she was sorry but that the kitchen had run out of romaine.  We joked about it later on as a "what were they thinking?!".  Until, that is, I realized that what we had expected (& would've easily accepted) was romaine with a dressing that was not like any that a real Caesar recipe would detail.  I guess what I'm saying is that I'm on both sides of this argument.  As I discovered in Florida, I really like "Grouper Reubens".  And, as I discovered in Italy, "Spaghetti with Meatballs" aint a thing.  🤔

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5 minutes ago, Steve R. said:

.  I guess what I'm saying is that I'm on both sides of this argument.  As I discovered in Florida, I really like "Grouper Reubens".  And, as I discovered in Italy, "Spaghetti with Meatballs" aint a thing.  🤔

Kim Severson did a great piece in the NY Times about finding the real recipe for her family's Sunday Gravy. She traveled to Italy to talk to distant relatives. Turns out It had little to do with Italy. Her relatives were perplexed at her rendition. 

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16 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Don’t get me started on whole wheat pasta.

 

I'm sure there's a recipe somewhere were the taste of wholemeal pasta would work better than regular - but I still haven't found one :P After all, there's pasta made of buckwheat, rye, chestnuts - all "nutty" in flavor and works well in some application.

It doesn't help that a lot of wholemeal pasta is stale to begin with.

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~ Shai N.

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