Carbonara, the most famous pasta dish – a cultural insight

Did you know that the debate over the original ingredients of Carbonara –- the most famous Italian pasta dish around the world – is still ongoing and it is a hot topic in Italy? So, what’s all the fuss about?

Let’s start by introducing the two disputed ingredients: pancetta vs guanciale.

Apparently, there are two opposing camps in Italy when it comes to Carbonara: one arguing in favor of pancetta and other of guanciale. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The differences

Guanciale is a rich and savory typical Italian cured meat that originates from the pig’s cheek and, thus, is less readily available, and more expensive. Italian pancetta – similar to American bacon – is usually smoked, cheaper, and comes from the belly of the pig. Fun fact: the Italian word “pancetta” comes from “pancia” – belly, and “guanciale” comes from “guancia”– cheek.

Although guanciale is the preferred ingredient for authentic Carbonara – and the official one! – it is not uncommon to find pancetta in Carbonara. In fact, many Italians especially at home and in the Northern regions of Italy tend to use it more often since it is easier to find and cheaper to buy!

Yes, Italians have not settled their differences on this matter yet. What about you? Which ingredient do you think works best for Carbonara?

Outside Italy

Outside of Italy, these cured meats are both equally valid options, despite being somewhat debated in Italy.

We are aware that there are many other versions of the Carbonara pasta dish around the world, and using prosciutto – as long as it is Veroni’s – might be forgivable. However, adding tomato sauce? Let’s draw the line there, please!

Jokes aside, regardless of your preferences, every day is a good day to celebrate Carbonara!

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