Some spelling errors, typos, literals – call them what you like – mess with your mind. I once ordered 'parched eggs' in a cafe knowing full well what they were. The other day I saw a sign in a deli that said: 'mindless bacon, $15.99 a kilo'. M is nowhere near R on a keyboard so who knows how that one occurred?
I was buying bacon to make an old recipe that the children have come to adopt as one of their favourites. One out of three of the children on a moderate day - and two out of three one a finicky day - will not eat eggs; while the third – who does eat eggs – will only eat the yolk. Yet all three will slurp up spaghetti carbonara. Hide the eggs in something else!
(Perhaps we also should bring back the 1960s egg flip: to a litre of creamy milk in a blender, add two tablespoons of sugar, two eggs, and a dash of vanilla essence. Blend. Pour the delicious bubbling unctuous fluid into tall glasses and top with nutmeg. Retro flavour explosion! I want one now. They went out of favour because you were eating raw egg. Children drank raw eggs in the 1960s? Tweet that, Twitter generation!)
Cook spaghetti. (Other pasta can be used but half the enjoyment of this traditional dish is the way the long strands pick up the cheesy eggy oily coating. The flavour is enhanced by the addition of fresh chopped parsley from the garden and shards of barely-cooked garlic.)
While spaghetti is cooking, chop six pieces of short bacon (per half kilogram of pasta) into small squares or strips, and place these in a heavy pan with some olive oil and a chopped or scored clove of garlic. Tip in a little white wine and add a dash of black pepper. Cook bacon until just done. Do not allow garlic to burn, or add it later in the cooking process. Chopped onion can also be used as a variation.
Time the spaghetti and bacon cooking times to coincide. Practice makes perfect. Simply drain the spaghetti when done and tip into the just-cooked bacon. Then crack two eggs into the pan, add a quarter cup of grated parmesan or romano, and pull the spaghetti gently and lovingly around to gather up the egg and melting cheese as it goes.
Serve immediately the egg has set. Scatter chopped parsley and more cheese. Serve with a salad of halved vine tomatoes, pitted black kalamata olives and cubed feta cheese.
Red wine for the grown-ups.