Arguing about carbonara is a waste of time
Who knew our old friend and Shallow Thought guest poster John Lindner knew how to speak pig Latin? EL
Degustibus carbonara non est disputandum ad hoc tiempo dingus*
And I thought I was arrogant.
Well, I am. But I’m no Guardian. That august organ recently presented the “50 best things to eat and the 50 best places to eat them.”
Case closed… finally.
The article humbled me as it forced me to admit I’m simply not shameless enough to compete in world-class triumphalism. ...
* Arguing about carbonara is a waste of time
It also reminded me of a meal I enjoyed recently at Luigi’s in Washington DC. I ordered the carbonara.
(Token review: Good food, attentive service, cool building, yearn to return, subtract one star for its failure to be located in Baltimore.)
Aside from the first forkful of Luigi’s carbonara, which seemed way too salty –- as in, take it back, shoot the cook, I’ll catch a bite at the Highs on my way home –- the dish was wonderful. I wanted more. However…
Luigi’s isn’t the best carbonara I’ve ever had. Or it is. The best carbonara I’ve had was at the Pasta Tree. Or it wasn’t.
The two restaurants present dishes that are quite different, yet they’re both recognizably carbonara, and I like both. I prefer Pasta Tree’s.
Years after moving too far away to visit Pasta Tree I learned from a Dan Rodricks article that some carbonara recipes don’t include cream. What? (“Maybe butter.” Maybe?)
Driving back home from Luigi’s the shallow thought hit me: What makes a dish the best?
Is there some sort of Platonic recipe ideal that fixes the mark immovable?
Does each dish come with a recipe that clearly and painstakingly lays out the precise steps to achieve bestness?
What, indeed, is the best carbonara? Who makes it? And would my palate recognize it as the best or would it prefer some pretender?
Is there such a thing as “the best macaroni and cheese”?
Is there some place, like the Guardian, where one can find the best and thereby establish a benchmark by which to judge all others?
(Photo: Victor Iglesias courtesy Stock.xchng)