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Pasta Carbonara

Josh To from Canada

Cooks in
Country of origin

I find myself on Roman ground. In an Osteria.

A man who might be the owner sits close. He sips a golden vino bianco and props his foot up on the lady’s seat next. They kiss. Finding it with ease with a golden passion, like the wine, like the evening.

He brings out the dish from the kitchen with all the ceremony of a casual stroll, the evening breeze pushing him along. Tears form in my tongue. Am I emotional? A celebratory confetti sits atop, grated.

I gaze awhile at the dish, the one and only: Pasta Carbonara.

Here are, a handful of ingredients strung into a perfect symphony:

The pork cheek is crisp as bacon. The hot pasta coaxes egg and cheese into a luxurious creamy sauce. Salt and a generous turn of the pepper mill stand each flavour up a little taller. Olive oil to begin and a naughty drizzle to finish. Perfection on a plate.

Rich, heavenly and above all, simple. I take a bite and sink my teeth into something truly wonderful, breaking into a sanctuary of angels caught mid-song. Flavour rolls over each little ridge of my tongue in a lengthy chorus. It is glorious. It is divine. It is —

I glance back up. The owner sits back down, giving his lover a light for a smoke.
I glance back down, to my bowl of joy and wonder.

I am in Italy.

// Pasta Carbonara: this was the first dish I tasted in Italy, and I could feel myself tearing up after the first bite. Over and over again I had tried to nail this dish, but it was never 100% up to scratch. Tasting it here in ITALY, completely blew me away, and for this reason and more, the dish has captured my affection. To me, Pasta Carbonara represents much of Italian cuisine. It has clean, true flavours and is strung together with rustic charm – while still being deliciously elegant.

That first meal is a treasured moment in my food journey. It became the first dish I feel I really mastered, and one I will certainly come back to for the rest of my life.


  • 200g Guanciale
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
  • 150g Pecorino Romano
  • 350g Spaghetti (dried)
  • sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil


  • 1. Set a large pot of water on high heat. Bring it to a boil while you prep the Guanciale and sauce.
  • 2. Slice the Guanciale into a chunky dice (long ¼ inch cubes). Roughly chop the garlic into a large mince.
  • 3. To prep the sauce, whisk together: egg yolks, whole egg, grated pecorino, and a generous turn of black pepper. Do NOT add any cream.
  • 4. To prep the sauce, whisk together: egg yolks, whole egg, grated pecorino, and a generous turn of black pepper. Do NOT add any cream.
  • 5. Set a large saucepan on medium heat. With a good glug of olive oil (2-3 table spoons), fry the guanciale for 3-4 minutes till it is getting golden and crispy at the edges.
  • 6. Here is the key to the dish: when the pasta is 90% to al dente (or 1 minute away from being done), use tongs to transfer the pasta to the saucepan. Tip in a small splash of the pasta water too, and turn off the heat immediately!
  • 7. Toss the pasta around for half a minute to let it cool. Now, add your egg mixture, and toss! It should become very nice and creamy (and shouldn’t turn to scrambled eggs)
  • 8. Plate and serve immediately. Garnish with pecorino, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like. Enjoy!


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