Dining

Egg on Their Faces

Italians are outraged over a French interpretation of their classic carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara
Photo: LeSamourai. via Flickr

Carbonara, the simple Roman pasta dish of eggs, guanciale, cheese and black pepper, may sound like the unlikeliest source of an international dispute, but this classic dish has just incited outrage between the French and Italians.

It all started with a short video—not even a minute long—that French website Demotivateur published last month. The Italians called the one-pot take on their traditional dish total blasphemy.

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Why the carb-troversy? First, the recipe included farfalle, not the typical spaghetti or rigatoni. On top of that, it also included crème fraîche. Though American takes on carbonara sometimes include cream, the classic Italian version includes nothing of the sort. Finally, cooking the pasta in one pot might sound like an attractive, time-saving weeknight option, but Italians called out the danger of boiling the guanciale with this method.

"Five minutes of silence for the death of carbonara in France," a commenter posted alongside the video in a Facebook group, the Huffington Post reports.

The original video garnered 1.3 million views before it was taken down, the Daily Mail reports. Condemnations appeared all over Italian media, including on the front page column of Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Behind the outrage is a more tangled web of noodles, however. Barilla, the brand of pasta featured in the video, called Demotivateur to take down the video. The pasta company even presented a more authentic video as a rebuttal.

As the Guardian reports today, however, Demotivateur is partnered with Barilla. The pasta company pays the website to feature its products. When asked to clarify the dispute, Barilla told the Guardian that the video was "just not right"—that the French website had gone "too far" in its interpretation of the Roman classic. Too far indeed.

The incident is reminiscent of the "major culinary snub" that occurred when British grocery store Tesco said it would sell only straight croissants, because the curved shape made it difficult to spread jam on the pastry. Now, it seems, the French are getting a taste of their own medicine.

The lesson here? Do as the Romans do—wherever you find yourself.

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