Yorick Gomez Gane

Alla carbonara: etymological note

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This article studies the culinary adjectival phrase alla carbonara (with its reduced form, the feminine noun carbonara). After providing a historical framework for the phrase, the various etymological hypotheses advanced so far in the linguistic and gastronomic fields are reviewed, weighing their strengths and weaknesses. The Author leans towards the hypothesis that the phrase (documented in Italian since 1950) is borrowed from the name of another recipe (used from the early twentieth century), polenta alla carbonara, due to the notable correspondences between that polenta-based recipe and the new pasta dish (originally spaghetti): color and consistency (a warm yellow mixture), and the original presence of pork, cheese and butter as the main ingredients.


  • (pasta) alla carbonara
  • polenta alla carbonara
  • history of Italian gastronomic terminology
  • Italian etymology


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