By Nick Roumel

My oldest daughter Fiona spent some time in England and met her husband there. They now live in the Chicago area. Will has turned into a pretty good cook, and as I sit here and digest his very fine pasta carbonara, I decided to ask him about "British cuisine."

NICK: Will, what were the typical meals you ate growing up in Oxford?

WILL: Often we would have Sunday roasts. Mum would make roast chicken, roast lamb, not so much beef or pork because she didn't like those.

NICK: My impression is that Brits like their meat either well done or very well done.

WILL: That's the cliché, but I do remember the lamb was quite good. Mum cooked the chicken in a terra cotta roasting pan which kept it moist.

NICK: Did dad ever cook?

WILL: He liked to cook when he had time, so it would be slightly more complicated.

NICK: Was he a good cook?

WILL: He always made the omelettes too runny.

NICK: Did you eat any vegetables that weren't boiled into limp nothingness?

WILL: Actually we were quite controversial. We even used to have salads, and we would eat them after the main dish, like the continentals do.

NICK: Mushy peas?

WILL: (laughs) No, I've never had mushy peas at home. We actually ate a fairly international diet.

NICK: What is spotted dick?

WILL: (chortles) I don't know. I think it's some kind of bread pudding with raisins in it.

NICK: How did you learn to be such a good cook?

WILL: I don't know. Both my parents liked to cook, they encouraged me to make my own food, and I started with one-pot "ready meal" stroganoff. Well it wasn't really stroganoff. It was like a mushroom cream thing. I'm not even sure I know what stroganoff is. Fiona, what goes into stroganoff?

NICK: Forget it. Just give us your pasta carbonara recipe.

Will's Pasta Carbonara - for two people:

* Half a pack of bacon (6-8 rashers).

* Half an onion, chopped finely.

* 2-4 cloves of garlic, or to taste, chopped finely.

* 2 egg yolks.

* Salt, black pepper.

* 2 Tsp grated parmesan.

* Heavy whipping cream (optional).

* 200g pasta (or as required for growing lads).

Chop the bacon into small pieces and fry gently until it releases its own fat. Continue to fry, adding the onion. Once the bacon begins to crisp and the onion is tender, add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, boil pasta until it is al dente. Place a mug in the sink and drain, retaining some water in the mug. Return pasta to the pan. Combine bacon mix with pasta, stirring to distribute. Add egg yolks, salt and pepper to taste, parmesan and (optionally) cream. Stir over a low heat until the egg lightens a little, adding a little of the retained water as needed if the sauce is too dry. But be careful - the sauce should be a thin coating on the pasta, not a separate entity. Serve with peas, more grated parmesan, and white wine or mineral water.

Just make sure those peas aren't mushy.


Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He can be reached at His blog is

Published: Fri, Oct 4, 2013