When I was a university student in Bordeaux in the 80s, I lived off three things more or less: shop-bought Moussaka which I shared with my neighbour, Yves, washed down with bottles of beer and followed by numerous Camel cigarettes. The other favourite was Carbonara from the local Italian restaurant where the owner would start ladling extra sauce onto the spaghetti as I walked through the door. For the princely sum of 26 francs, I could eat a huge bowl of Carbonara laden with crispy lardons, a green salad and half a carafe of red wine. The owner was very generous and ensured that my Carbonara was swimming in the egg sauce although it has remained a mystery to me how a large vat of the sauce was forever simmering in the background. Aficionados will know that the Carbonara sauce is raw egg with perhaps cream and a grating of nutmeg, amalgamated over a bain marie or cooked by the freshly boiled hot pasta.
The third dish that I adored and have never, ever found again was in the local crêperie where for 20 francs I could eat two large crêpes wrapped over patties of minced beef topped with creamy spinach. The dish used to be a complete delight to eat and was so nourishing. To this day, if I am tired, I always have a bloody steak and spinach.
Of course when I returned to Bordeaux last year after thirty years, none of those establishments was still standing. Life goes on but my memories will always keep me company.
My homemade Carbonara.
Photo copyright SvD.