Food Fight

What You Need to Know About Carbonaragate, the Pasta Scandal That’s Rocking Europe

The real deal.
The real deal. Photo: Shenghung Lin Photos

Italians do not take kindly to people messing with their pasta. That didn’t stop the French website Demotivateur from publishing a recipe for one-pot pasta carbonara. The recipe, and its accompanying video, took some … let’s call it creative license with the traditional mix of pasta, cured pork jowel, and an egg.

The French version called for farfalle (spaghetti is the traditional noodle) and suggests the cook just throw everything into a single pot of boiling water. That means the guanciale is never properly cooked. The recipe also called for onions and — in a très French touch — crème fraîche. Finally, the recipe calls for a single raw egg yolk, which is left atop the pasta, instead of the traditional method of mixing it in so it’s gently warmed by the hot noodles.

Italians, naturally, considered this a “horror show.” So much so that this scandal has prompted national outrage. Responding to the affront against culinary decency, being billed as Carbonagate, newspapers in Italy have accused the website of single-handedly destroying centuries of pasta tradition in less than a minute. The paper that levied that charge, La Republica, even devoted a full page to fighting this grave, Gallic threat, complete with secrets on perfecting the dish and an article on its disputed origins.

But here’s where the story gets even stranger: Demotivateur is an “editorial partner” of Italian pasta titan Barilla, whose noodles are actually featured in the offending video. But even Barilla scolded Demotivateur for going “too far.” It then forced Demotivateur to remove the entire video. What kind of lasting impact this will have on the relationship between the two countries — uneasy allies, always — is unclear, but it’s probably only a matter of time before Italy retaliates with a recipe for escargots that’s made with tomatoes.


Carbonaragate Scandal Rocks Europe