Spaghetti Carbonara: The first of many Europe trip-inspired meals

Subtitle: A tragic tale of love and loss featuring borrowed Dutch bicycles

Food-wise, Europe was every bit as inspiring as I hoped it would be. In our four weeks of backpacking, Gord and I travelled across seven countries and have done our best to try the local cuisine of each. Basically we ate lots of pizza, pasta, cheese, eggplant, bread, macarons, bacon-wrapped hotdogs, pancakes AND MORE. Whew.

Over the next few weeks, Gord and I will be recreating our favourite dishes from our trip. We plan on having country-themed dinner parties in which we feed guests food from that one specific nation. Think massive, five-course meals.

To get a headstart on our food recreations, Gord and I made an Italian cuisine-inspired meal: spaghetti carbonara. In Amsterdam we had access to a kitchen at the airbnb apartment we were staying at, and we took full advantage of the fact that we could finally cook a full dinner.

Also, spaghetti carbonara happens to be just about the cheapest and easiest dish you can make. It requires about five basic ingredients. One of them is bacon. Have I convinced you to make this yet?

Of course, like any good plotline, no meal is complete unless presented with a dilemma. Ours came in the form of groceries lost whilst riding a bicycle. Seriously. Such a Dutch problem.

Here’s the story:

Having gone grocery shopping for dinner supplies in downtown Amsterdam, Gord and I smartly decided to use the elastic laces on the back of my borrowed bike to strap down our precious cargo. Off we go, biking away, me trying very hard not to get T-boned (almost happened twice) by the no-patience-for-tourists Dutch cyclists.

Sometime between the grocery store and a third of the way back, our bag of groceries decided to dislodge itself from its unstable home. Moments of hilarious realization occured and we backtracked our route in hope of recovering our estranged cargo. No such luck.

The story ended on a happy note, though, and we found a grocery store on the way home, repurchased our ingredients and peddled back, this time with the bag dangling from Gord’s handlebars.

Moral of the story? When trying to blend in with fashionable Dutch cyclists, ensure things are securely tied to your bicycle, or risk looking ridiculous as items unknowingly tumble from said vehicle. Lesson learned.

In the end, the resulting dinner was worth every once of the trouble. Our first home-cooked meal in a month. Delicious.

Recipe: Spaghetti carbonara
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet
– 350 grams spaghetti
– 1 cup cubed bacon
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 5 egg yolks
– 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
– 1 tsp ground pepper

In a pan, fry garlic and bacon until the latter is browned, but still fatty. If you are cooking bacon strips, cut the strips into small pieces once cooked. Remove from pan using slotted spoon to leave excess fat in pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the egg yolks, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Once cooked, drain the water, reserving 1/2 cup for the sauce. In another pot, quickly combine the pasta with the egg yolk mixture and bacon, tossing to coat. Add the reserved water slowly, using only as much as you need to create a creamy-consistency sauce.

Garnish with more pepper (if you want) and serve immediately.

Makes 2 large servings.

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