What’s in Pasta Carbonara?

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Apparently, people have strong feelings about how pasta carbonara should be made. A 45-second French video showing a one-pot preparation of the dish with farfalle instead of spaghetti and substituting crème fraîche for most of the cheese — and not even stirring the egg into the pasta to cook it! and it was just the yolk! — caused outrage in Italy: “It’s as if we had made bourguignon with lamb and white wine!”, said one French-Italian chef.

But while some may prefer the original Italian preparation (yours truly included — writing this is making me hungry), there are clearly plenty of variations on the theme in the culinary world. Salvino A. Salvaggio (who clearly falls into the traditionalist camp) scoured YouTube for all of the videos explaining how to make pasta carbonara. After eliminating those with less than 10,000 views and those straying too far from traditional carbonara (e.g. vegan preparations), Salvaggio used the R language to tally up the ingredients used in the 165 videos that remained. Here are the results:


Salvaggio forgives the use of bacon plus some olive oil instead of the traditional guanciale (pork cheeks), and parmesan is a close substitute for peccorino. But he has some strong words for the other interlopers:

However, using cream, garlic, egg yolks (instead of full eggs), onion, butter or white wine would be considered as a culinary heresy by a vast majority of cuisine amateurs. And it is shocking to notice that almost 50% of all recipes suggest to use some kind of cream or milk, while this is by no means part of the traditional recipe.

You can find Salvaggio's preferred recipe for pasta carbonara, along with the R code and data supporting the analysis, in his complete post linked below.

Salvino A. Salvaggio: It’s Not Rocket Science, Just Pasta Carbonara

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