There are only five ingredients in a proper Roman carbonara.
Five ingredients, so the provenance of each is crucial; the way in which it’s treated by the cook is paramount. These five ingredients have to be prepared perfectly and then brought together in such a way that each ingredient shines while contributing to something greater.
Eggs, pecorino, guanciale, black pepper, pasta. That’s it. There’s an alchemical brilliance to them when they become carbonara, when the eggs and cheese and rendered guanciale fat emulsify to become a thick rich sauce that coats the toothsome pasta, and that holds the crispy hunks of fried pork cheek, laced with the bite of black pepper to cut through the fullness.