Pasta Carbonara

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What kind of family-style food chronicle would this be if I didn’t tell you all about our relationship with Pasta Carbonara, our favorite family supper? Carbonara, as we affectionately refer to it, is probably the one and only meal I prepare that provokes J to shout for joy, that is, other than bacon. But Carbonara has lots of bacon in it, along with eggs and cheese, so there you go.

Every night, as the sun makes its swift departure behind the neighbor’s roof, J drops his light saber and comes nosing around me as I get pans moving around in the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner?”

If, as happens 6 out of every 7 days, I answer (in my best Mrs. Cleaver voice): “Why, all your favorites, dear; chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs with pickles on top, and a great big pile of French fries”.

“Oh, boy, Mom, thanks!” (gives me a big bear hug, and skips off to wash his hands).

HA! No, sillies, that’s not what happens.

Basically if the menu consists of anything other than Carbonara, he falls on the floor in a raging, apoplectic fit. Kind of like Jake La Motta during the steak scene in Raging Bull, except he doesn’t throw any food at my head (that would merit a time-out, for sure).

I have to admit, that Carbonara is also one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. My husband holds the title of Official Maker of the Carbonara, but lately, I’ve tinkered with the tried-and-true recipe (because that’s what I do), and now have made it even more comfortable and delicious.

Bring on December

Palate Pleaser

My kids love to play the favorites game: What’s your favorite color? Flower? Cookie? I usually wiggle out of this kind of cross-examination by stating in a vaguely diplomatic tone, “I like all colors/flowers/cookies, because each is the best in its own special way”. Needless to say that answer just doesn’t inspire them. Kids crave definitive answers, not blurry, meaningless statements that could have been scripted by a government speechwriter.

But, as far as months go, I’m unequivocal – December is my very favorite month of the year. Yes, and the fact that my birthday arrives right at the beginning only helps to kick-start the upcoming weeks of celebrating. What can I say? I’m a party girl at heart, plus it’s a great excuse to stock up the wine cooler with all things sparkly.

I was seduced by the photo of this drink in Mario Batali’s Holiday Food cookbook, and it is now my official “house” drink. Not sparkling wine, but a colorful (read: festive) kind of liquid appetizer that precedes a glass of champagne, the sort of concoction that’s perfect for say, about five o’clock in the afternoon, when it’s just about dark, the neighbor’s Christmas lights ignite, and a fire is crackling away in the living room. Happy December!

Italian Tangerine Sparkler

For one drink

Slice a thin wheel from one plump tangerine, and set it aside. Squeeze the juice from the tangerine into a tall ice-filled glass. Pour in some sparkling water, or better yet, Blood Orange Italian Soda (my favorite is made by Archer Farms at Target) then top with a big slash of Campari. If you intend to enjoy a more debauched evening, then add a splash of citrus-flavored vodka as well. Float the tangerine slice on top and drink.

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