If you ever find yourself in a dark alley beset by ruffians and forced to defend your opinions on the origins of say, chicken Vesuvio, you want Anthony Buccini by your side. The sociolinguist and culinary historian is a rigorous, sometimes pugnacious scholar and a culinary traditionalist whose work has been recognized at the highest levels of academe. His paper “Western Mediterranean Vegetable Stews and the Integration of Culinary Exotica” won the prestigious Sophie Coe Prize in Food History at the 2005 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, and the talk he gave on it last December at the Chicago Historical Society revealed how the humblest foods (pisto, cianfotta, ratatouille) have a complicated, interconnected history. This Saturday he’ll be summarizing “On Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Related Dishes of Central and Southern Italy,” the paper he presented at the 2006 Oxford symposium. Here are some of his thoughts (no garlic dammit) on this venerable Roman dish of pasta, eggs, pork, and cheese, and a huge page of links to his recipes and cooking notes on other foods.

The talk starts at 10 AM Saturday at Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch. It’s $2; call 847-432-8255.