One of my favorite recipes of all-time is spaghetti carbonara. This is real, soul-satisfying, stomach filling comfort food. With just a few ingredients (boiled pasta, guanciale or pancetta, fresh eggs, parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper) it’s simple and quick enough for a warming weekday dinner but also elegant and sophisticated enough for a romantic weekend date night at home. It’s also a perfect vehicle for improvisation and adaptation, such as my Filipino version of sisig (chopped crispy fried pork) carbonara and my aunt’s version in the Philippines made with cream, onions, and mushrooms which she always makes whenever I visit. All good, all rich, all satisfying, all guaranteed to bring people together.
So I’d like to take a moment to commemorate the man who gave me the best and only way to make authentic, true, Italian carbonara. A man whose contributions to Italian gastronomy and food culture have earned him the title of ‘godfather’. Antonio Carluccio, who sadly passed away today. If I ever had an Italian grandfather, I would wish for him to be Antonio Carluccio. With his beautifully robust accent, his gentle yet permanent smile, and his humble yet demanding expertise in the kitchen. I remember watching his video on spaghetti carbonara and rushing to make it myself. Finding clips of his show Two Greedy Italians on YouTube. And browsing the recipes in his many, many cookbooks.
I can’t stand when people seemingly try to hijack the tragedy of a celebrity’s death to somehow make it about themselves, inviting the comforting and consoling words of others. This is not my loss. In fact, I feel nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the work Antonio Carluccio has done for simple, authentic Italian food. I want as many people as possible to know about him. To try his recipes. To cook his dishes for friends, family, loved ones. To share around the table good food, good memories, good laughs, and good company.
Of remembering the dead, the Italians say that this is ‘non un giorno di lutto, bensi una giornata felice’ (not a day of mourning but instead a happy day). I imagine for Antonio’s family right now, after the sadness, there will be dancing, and feasting, and sharing. Of food and drink and memories.
Jerel says, ‘non ti dimentichiamo’ (we will not forget you).