Last night, Clara cooked up one of my favorite "comfort foods," spaghetti alla carbonara. It's one of those recipes that, early in my life as a cook, I followed meticulously in Marcella Hazan's classic Italian cookbook. I cooked in those days as if Marcella were standing over my shoulder, shaking her head disapprovingly if I failed to observe any of her occasionally anal retentive steps. Over the years, I stopped parboiling the bacon before cooking it in garlic-infused olive oil. I also took to adding a small pinch of nutmeg (or mace, which for some reason is what we have in our cupboard instead of nutmeg) to the dish, which brings the flavor imperceptibly closer to the taste of spaghetti alla carbonara made with real pancetta.
When we arrived on the island in Michigan where we spent our honeymoon in late June 1989, we found the kitchen stocked with eggs, white wine, good parmesan cheese, and pancetta. One of our first home-cooked meals as husband and wife was spaghetti alla carbonara, prepared with real pancetta and Clara's homemade pasta. During our first year of marriage, when we were living in Providence, R.I., pancetta was fairly readily available. But I haven't seen it very often since we moved to Minnesota. So imagine my delight when, as I was crossing campus late last week, I was stopped by fellow blogger and Facebook friend Patrick Ganey, who handed me a thick slice of his home-cured pancetta. Like a good blogger, Patrick has written about making pancetta on his food blog, Duck Fat and Politics.
A big thank you to Patrick, and to the brave new world of social networking, for last night's delicious spaghetti alla carbonara!
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