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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hello from Colin

Hey everybody,

So obviously I'm getting in a little late here--I've been reading Anne's delicious looking posts with great enthusiasm (and can't wait to get back in the kitchen with her), but I haven't had good enough internet access here in Houston to post until now.

So, anyhow, in the (probably unlikely) event that anyone reading this doesn't know me too well, I'm Colin, Anne's godson (she and my mom have been best friends since they were 8). I'm 20 years old, I was born in Boston but grew up in Tucson, AZ, and go to Williams College, and I love food. I started cooking with Anne when I was a little kid, and it's been a tradition ever since --though she can testify that my ideas have improved a tad since then (RIP Ice Pie). My great culinary love is inventing new recipes, combinations of flavors that I think will work well together--and as often as not, I'll try them out first when I visit Boston. My culinary heroes are Mark Bittman and Alton Brown, and I'll often read/watch them for ideas. At any rate, you'll see a lot of recipe ideas from me, with as many of them tried out as I can muster when I'm living most of the year in a college dorm. In addition, you'll see restaurant reviews, and a fair number of random musings about food.

So, as I mentioned above I'm in Houston visiting my girlfriend, and I really wanted to cook something for her and her parents. In that department, however, I've run into one of the great challenges facing any cook: other people's pickiness. Specifically, while both she and her mom are adventurous eaters, her dad has what she's jokingly described as a "six year old's taste buds"--he likes most carbs, bacon, eggs, and cheese, but isn't fond of most veggies besides peas and corn.

So, I'd been wracking my brains to come up with something I could make to suit everyone, and I hit upon an idea: if he likes eggs and bacon, why not give him eggs and bacon--with a classic twist. Enter Pasta Carbonara.

As many of you probably know, Pasta Carbonara is a simple but hearty and delicious Italian pasta dish. There's a lot of debate over the origin of the name (carbonara literally means charcoal), with maintaining it was a meal for charcoal workers, while others maintain that the large quantities of black pepper are responsible. However, what is required to go into pasta carbonara is fairly well agreed upon. First, you need long-strand pasta--traditionally spaghetti. Second, you need cured pork of some kind--bacon or pancetta. Finally, you need black pepper, parmesan cheese, and, most crucially, eggs. Preparation is simple--fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp, boil the pasta and, when it's just drained and still hot and sticky, add the meat and pour the egg yolks straight into the hot pasta, which will cook them to creamy perfection. I'm making my own tweaks to the recipe-- I'm thinking crispy garlic chips, caramelized onions, and maybe some sherry mushrooms for those of us who eat them--but more on that in my next post.

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