Cooking with grandma (Italy): pasta alla carbonara

Today in “Cooking with grandma”, I’m going to show you how to make a famous Italian recipe born in Lazio, a region of Rome: pasta with “carbonara” sauce.

By Laura Barberis

Italians are very fond of their traditional cooking, and so they usually can’t stand the hybrids of Italian cuisine that can be found while visiting other countries. Since I’m not from Rome, I’m afraid that I, too, will receive threats from Romans, mostly because my recipe has some variations. Therefore, I want to make it clear that this is my grandma’s recipe and that I completely trust her on this.

Before we start, a little advice: you should use long types of pasta for the recipe, like spaghetti or linguine, mostly because in Italy we have many types of pasta and not every type goes well with every sauce.


The ingredients. They might appear less than expected, but that’s because it was just grandma and I for dinner. © Laura Barberis

Now, the recipe.

Ingredients (for 4 persons):
– 350g of spaghetti
– 3 eggs *
– 150g of diced bacon (the original recipe requires “guanciale”, but since it is more difficult to find you can use bacon instead)
– 30g of shredded parmesan (here, too, there’s a variation: you should use “pecorino romano”, but parmesan will do)
– 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil
– 1 garlic clove
– Salt and pepper

*If you need to change the doses, my grandma suggests you use as many eggs as the diners less one (so if there’s 6 of you use 5 eggs, if there’s 3 use 2 eggs and so on)



First of all, fill a large pot just over half full with water, add a handful of cooking salt.

While the water is heating up, pour the oil in a pan with the garlic clove and brown it (without burning it), so that the oil will have some more flavour; then, add the diced bacon and brown until the fat becomes transparent, then turn it off and let it rest.


© Laura Barberis

Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them for a couple of minutes, then add parmesan, salt and pepper and mix together until it looks creamy.



© Laura Barberis


When the water is boiling, add spaghetti without breaking them in half (breaking spaghetti means breaking an italian’s heart) and stir with a wooden fork in order to push them into the water and make them soft and easier to stir.


© Laura Barberis

The cooking time is usually written on the box, but spaghetti normally take ten minutes or so to be ready but, in any case, this is what it should look like when ready:


© Laura Barberis

Drain the pasta and put it into the bowl with the eggs and parmesan mix, then add the bacon (removing the garlic clove first) and stir: the heat from the pasta will cause the egg to cook enough to be creamy without being raw!


Finished! © Laura Barberis

Serve immediately, and don’t forget to put a bowl with shredded parmesan on your dinner table too, because some people, as Italians often do, might want to add it to the “carbonara”.

Enjoy your meal and “buon appetito!”


Laura Barberis (Italy)

Studies: Theories and Techniques of Interlinguistic Mediation

Languages: Italian, English, Spanish and French


Ashika Bhatt (England)

Work: Au Pair in Germany

Speaks: English, French, German

Europe is…culture

Author: Anja

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