After consuming carbonara for twenty years, I've become somewhat of an aficionado. There are several rules that I've devised when it comes to carbonara.
- Carbonara is a special meal comprised of special ingredients. These ingredients include egg, prosciutto, broth, onion, pasta, and Pecorino Romano. These ingredients are not to be tampered with.
- Never, ever pronounce the word 'carbonara' as it is spelled. I'm talking to you, Olive Garden. Carbonara is meant to be pronounced "ca-bon-ad-a," or something like that. I'm not that hooked on phonics.
- The carbonara I have grown accustomed to is a family recipe. My mother would personally murder everyone who ate the meal if it was stolen.
- If you use bacon, you're doing it wrong.
To be honest, that first experience with Italian carbonara kind of threw me off it for awhile. For the next three weeks, I didn't order it at restaurants for fear of another let-down. Then, just three nights ago, I decided to take the leap and try it again.
The plate that the waiter put in front of me was piled with spaghetti, which I accepted as a step in the right direction. It was less yellow and a bit more malleable, still sprinkled with pancetta and garnished with Pecorino Romano. I took my first bite and noted a thicker consistency than my mother's cooking. Of course I cleaned my dish (I've learned that it's quite insulting not to here in Italy), but I still felt disappointed.
I don't know if I'm ever going to find carbonara better than my mom's. Sure, I'll eat it, but it's more for the sake to say that I had it in Italy, not because I'm enjoying it so much that I never want to eat it again at home. I haven't eaten much outside of Rome, but so far, I've decided that, at least with meals, Mom makes it better. Maybe I just have a little bout of homesickness.
Or maybe I haven't ordered the right meal yet!