Author Topic: How WWII helped produce the savory bacon pasta known as Carbonara  (Read 1033 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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Navy Times by Sarah Sicard 5/8/2023

There is perhaps no greater culinary creation than a greasy, crispy slice of bacon — except maybe when using this glorious-albeit-disgusting cured pig byproduct in something else delicious, like a cheesy bowl of spaghetti with eggs.

The dish may sound rather luxurious, buts its origin story traces its roots to something more of a garbage meal used to feed hungry soldiers during World War II.

Carbonara, as it’s known today, is a pasta dish including eggs, pecorino cheese, black pepper, and guanciale — an Italian cured meat product akin to bacon. The noodle of choice varies, but typically stringy varieties like spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine or bucatini are used.

It’s not certain exactly when Carbonara came to be, but according to Italian pasta archives — yes, these are real, hallowed texts — no official mention was made until the 1950s.

However, according to an Italian newspaper called “La Stampa,” the dish made its first appearance in 1944.

An author and gastronomist named Marco Guarnaschelli Gotti surmised that “when Rome was liberated, food shortages were extreme, and one of the few resources were military rations, distributed by allied troops; these included eggs (powdered) and bacon (smoked bacon), which some unknown genius would have had the idea of mixing while seasoning the pasta.”

Popular theories suggest that a Bolognese chef named Renato Gualandi, who, according to some accounts was serving in the Italian Army at the time, was responsible for the dish’s origin. Gualandi was reportedly commissioned by U.S. and British troops to cook for them during the liberation of Rome.