Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Day 4: pasta carbonara

One of my great finds of recent supermarket memory is the Arkansas bacon I buy at Reasor's. I don't know what makes it Arkansas, short of origin. It has a smokiness that sets it off, to be sure. And it's a more meaty, less fatty cut that's more like a loin than a belly. Like Canadian bacon.

I cook it in everything. It flavors our red beans and rice, our soups (like Day 2's potage) and is the cornerstone - along with John Wooley's henhouse eggs - of our spaghetti carbonara.

Four things go into carbonara, in spite of what you've eaten in restaurants: pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese. Traditionally, Romano cheese, though any grana is good. (I've even made do with stateside things like aged California Monterey Jack that Judy Allen sells in her spankin' new Brookside shop.)

Peas, cream, herbs, ham - NONE of this is the stuff of carbonara. Oh, but one more is: fresh-cracked black pepper. It's what sets the whole dish off, like a fuse beneath a rocket's behind.

I can't envision the Seven-Day Adventurist diet without carbonara. Three of its four ingredients wind up in other dishes. It's an Italian peasant dish that has lasted because it suits our basic desire for some essential flavors, and can be prepared however humble the pantry.

Po' folks never ate so well.

Day 5 ... chicken curry.

1 comment:

  1. Tonight we ate out -- rare for our big, broke family -- and accidentally ordered bruschetta.
    1. I'd like you talk about how Americans have undoubtedly bastardized this dish, probably mispronouncing it in the process. Where did it come from, and what makes it good?
    2. I'd like to just state for the record that I admired Joe Momma's Pizza's attempts at using fresh ingredients, but someone should let them know that making tomato-based dishes out of crappy tomatoes that are out of season isn't going to score you any winning Scott Cherry reviews. --bob