Carbonara, which appears to have originated in Rome, derives its name from the Italian word for coal. Legend attributes the dish variously to charcoal makers, who presumably required a cheap and nourishing meal after a day of hard work; to the Carbonari, members of secret political societies in 19th—century Italy; or simply to the fact that the dish was once made over a charcoal fire. Present-day historians argue, however, that carbonara is a post-World War II invention, born of defeated yet still imaginative Italians compelled to satisfy American GIs with powdered eggs and bacon, those staples of army mess tents. Adherents to this theory generally hold that carbonara merely refers to the sometimes coal-speckled look of the dish, achieved by the addition of plenty of ground black pepper and the crisped pieces of meat. Traditional Roman carbonara consists of a holy trinity of whole eggs, pancetta or guanciale (cured pork jowl), and pecorino-romano cheese—never cream, an ingredient that many American all-you-can-eat-pasta chefs are wont to add. A carbonara sauce should gild, not asphyxiate, the noodle. True to the Roman way, I always remember to temper the eggs with pasta water (to keep them from stiffening up when they meet the steaming-hot pasta), and I use spaghetti whenever possible.