I don't even like pasta carbonara, but I think this is a stunningly stupid article from the New Yorker

Sorry, kiddo. My point was that perhaps our memories aren’t totally true :slight_smile:

Mine are engraved in stone The smell`s the tastes ,:grin:

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not everybody’s nonna (or mom, or auntie, or sister, etc., etc., etc) is a great cook – they all managed to feed people, but some are decidedly better at it than others.

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Totally. And as I thought I said, our memories might not be totally rooted in food-fact :slight_smile:

I thought original objection wasn’t that the French version is simpler, in some ways it could be said it’s more complex, but that the version included creme fraiche and other additional ingredients.

But as I said uptread, some pasta dishes need time, others are meant to be fast. I struggle to see how the one pot method makes the fast ones faster or adds value to the slower ones.

Part of the reason to cook the sauce separately from the pasta is to let the flavours meld together. Even simple tomato, onion, and garlic benefits from the sauce simmering for a bit longer than it takes for the pasta to cook.

So the limiting factor with a one pot dish is the whether the ingredients combine as a sauce work in a 8 to 14 minute timeframe. Some will - and even those maybe a flavour pastiche of the more traditional route - but many won’t with the pasta cooking time being either too long or too short for the optimum flavour of the sauce.

This is the original incident that Gopnik is writing about.


After reading the responses in this thread, I really don’t see any good coming of elaborating on the many things stupid about Gopnik’s article.

Thanks for the linked article and I have looked through a couple other articles embedded in it as well. Here are what I got.

  1. A French website (Demotivateur) has posted a short video recipe of Carbonara
  2. Many Italians found it both offensive and disgusting because it is so different and so crude compared to the classic carbonara. The outrage have been expressed on many social media as the Carbonaragate
  3. While Demotivateur is Barilla’s (famous pasta maker) editorial partner, Barilla also found the video troubling and have asked the video to be taken down, and Demotivateur did.

I think that these are correct. I believe Adam Gopnik also have described these three points accurate. I assume you found Gopnik’s article to be wrong because he took the opposite view – he defended Demotivateur’s short video and push back against Barilla and the many Italians by calling them the “Carbonara Purists” who are trying to stop progress and innovation. Correct?

Maybe Carbonara is a particular dear dish to Italians. I guess there are some cultural sensitivity which I didn’t pick up. I thought Gopnik was just taking an opposite view, and his opposition is more about “even if you don’t like a recipe, you shouldn’t try to shut it down”. His other opposition view is that the “purists” didn’t hate the short recipe because it is bad, but because it is simple.

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Perhaps it’s your use of the word “stupid.”

lacking intelligence or common sense.
“I was stupid enough to think she was perfect”
synonyms: unintelligent, ignorant, dense, foolish, dull-witted, slow, simpleminded, vacuous, vapid, idiotic, imbecilic, imbecile, obtuse, doltish; More

I wonder if all of these Carbonaragate can be avoided if it was better communicated. For example, maybe if the Gopnick has cleanly stated this is not traditional and it is just a 10-min adaptation?

The reason I said this is because recently I’ve just been to a Japanese-Western restaurant. It is not the kind of fancy fusion restaurant. It has more of a mom and pop store feel and priced inexpensively. It is called “On the Bridge” in Japantown, SF. It specializes so-called “Yoshoku (洋食)”, or Japanese-Western food, especially Japanese-Italian-ish food. I had the “Beef Curry on sauted pasta” ($12-14 I think). As you can imagine, it is a combination of Japanese, Indian and Italian thing. I actually quiet enjoyed it. I have a feeling that most Italians or Europeans will not find it offensive. In fact, they may even find it endearing or flattering: imitation is the best form of flattery.

Not my photo, but mine kind of looks like this.

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I’m still quite unclear what’s stupid about this article, I’m sorry. It’s well-written, informative, and helpful, and your clarifications have just muddied the waters.


I’ve definitely got to check that place out when I’m next in SF. I visited a Denny’s in Japan, which is the kind of place you go for big birthday parties or special events with families; my Japanese host told me that Japanese people get a big kick out of eating “Italian” food with a knife and fork. Most of the “American” food in Japan is basically Italian-American food adapted to Japanese tastes.

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I agree on the communication, but maybe a different spin.

If its not Carbonara then why call it Carbonara. No reason not to cook different pasta dishes, no need to stick with tradition, be creative etc etc. If its not the accepted recipe then simply call it something else “Fusilli Demotivateur” for example.

And I think that’s where many of the objections come from, solid traditional foods that are appropriated and bastardised without name change.

If I order a cheeseburger I want beef and cheese in a bun, not chicken and avocado in a wrap. Recipes may change but lets respect the names of traditional dishes.


I see what you’re saying and agree. Up to a point. BUT :slight_smile: For a few years now I’ve made Marcella Hazan’s green lasagna. No mozzarella or ricotta. Pasta, Bolognese sauce, bechamel an Parm. Best I’ve ever put in my mouth to the point that I’d never make or order it any other way. But I’m sure a sacrilege to many.

I could give no hoots about tradition. How does it taste? Is it better, the same, different, but still tasty? After reading above about MS’s one pot I googled up a video. Looked like it might be tasty and I’ll try someday, but I can’t believe that those onions and garlic wouldn’t taste better with a bit of sautéing in olive oil first. Nothing like a little browning to bring out flavor and it really wouldn’t add much time to the over all pot. I’ve actually started doing my risotto this way. Saute onions and garlic, add rice, saute a bit more, add a bit of wine, sauté a bit more and then add all the other ingredients, stock, green beans carrots artichokes, or whatever you want in the rice, cover and cook. No more stirring. But all those first few steps add flavor.

It’s interesting to hear about the different orthodoxies in different countries. I have always cooked mine in the same way as yours - I would think people who put mozzarella or ricotta in are a bit strange.

I am pretty certain most lasagnas I have had (in different countries) are similar to my method - I wonder if ricotta and mozzarella is a US tradition…?

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You get cheese inlasagna in France, Germany, and the UK. Not the quantity found in US lasagna, but im doubting that cheese went back to Europe.

I didn’t say you didn’t but its usually Parm (Parmasan) on top or in the cheaper versions a cheddar or cheddar like cheese incorporated into the béchamel sauce. IIRC you rarely get mozzarella or ricotta.

Plenty of ricotta, but no shortage of cheap shredded emmental.

Noooooooo … I love the New Yorker

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold