You've no doubt heard about the devastating earthquake that struck central Italy this week, with a death toll now climbing to almost 250. And like many others around the world, you may have been unfamiliar with the town of Amatrice, ground zero for the quake. The town was so devastated by the earthquake that Amatrice's mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, went so far as to tell local media, "The town is no more." In fact, though, you probably have heard of Amatrice's signature foodstuff. Pasta all'Amatriciana is a classic dish of bucatini or other long noodles in a sauce of guanciale, onion, garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.
Amatrice's down-home pasta is so famous—and its restauranteurs so prolific—that Maria Prassede Perilli, a resident of the town, told the New York Times that "If you closed the restaurants in Rome run by Amatriciani, you'd close half the restaurants." Likewise, Mario Batali points out on his website that Amatrice is "considered by many Italians to be [the] birthplace of the best cooks on the peninsula. Many dishes at the heart of Roman cooking may indeed have actually started in the region," which is located just east of Rome.
Now a food blogger named Paolo Campana has initiated a fundraiser for the people of Amatrice—one that capitalises on the popularity of the town's famous pasta dish. On his Facebook page, Campana is encouraging Italian restaurants worldwide to make a donation of €2 for each plate of pasta all'Amatriciana that they serve. The proceeds will go to the victims of the earthquake.
Even though today is only the second day of Campana's fundraiser, over 700 restaurants have already signed on to help. And that's a good thing, because Amatrice has been largely destroyed by the earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 6.2. The initial shock was followed by several aftershocks, which could be felt as far away as Naples. Other towns, including Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto, and Arquata del Tronto, were also severely damaged by the earthquake, but Amatrice got hit the hardest.
Amatrice was supposed to host its annual food festival to celebrate its signature dish this week, and the presence of visitors for that event has complicated responders' ability to calculate the number of dead and injured.
It's rare that by eating a delicious plate of pasta you can come to the rescue of people in dire need. But this week, you can.