Restaurateurs Everywhere Are Joining Forces To Help Earthquake Survivors Of Amatrice

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, Italy was left in shock after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake caused 281 deaths and left several others injured.

The quake struck the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Arquata del Tronto at exactly 3:36 a.m. while most were still asleep, crumbling homes, bucking roads, and burying residents under piles of rubble and masonry.

Approximately 12 hours after the quake hit, bulldozers and earthmovers roamed the streets, while temporary kitchens and camps were being set up to feed and house those who were left homeless.

Italy’s civil protection agency coordinated the rescue operation in Rome, just 93 miles away from where the earthquake struck.

Hundreds of rescue teams from around the country immediately rushed to the affected areas.

“The situation is dramatic, there are many dead. Rescue efforts are under way and it is very, very difficult,” the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, told reporters. “Much of the village has disappeared. The aim now is to save as many lives as possible.”

In tears, the mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, said the situation was “even more dreadful than we feared, with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life.”

In hopes to provide love and support to the victims, food lovers and chefs in Italy and beyond are asking restaurants to serve more pasta all’amatriciana.

This rustic dish, made of tomato sauce with pork jowl and topped with pecorino cheese, originated in Amatrice. The idea behind selling more of this particular pasta is for some of the proceeds to go to those who were affected by the devastating quake that hit on Wednesday.

Residents in the hilltop town of Amatrice had been preparing to host their yearly food festival this weekend dedicated to the pasta all’amatriciana dish, but now instead of spending their time celebrating with their families, they will be burying the many dead women, men, and children who were lost in the violent earthquake.

The fundraiser initially came from Italian food blogger Paolo Campana when he suggested that his friends in the food industry donate one euro for every plate of pasta all’amatriciana sold. In response to Campana, restaurateurs of nearby Assisi banded together to add pasta all’amatriciana to their menus, donating €2 ($2.25) for every plate sold.

“Pasta all’amatriciana is a symbol,” Campana told the Associated Press on Friday. “So I decided to use this symbol to help.”

Since Campana’s appeal, other areas, in addition to Assisi, have added the dish to their menus as well.

On Thursday, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver posted a video on Facebook accompanied by a caption that read, “Hi guys I’m Raising funds to support the earthquake victims of Italy…. Me and my 700 chefs at JAMIES Italian are cooking the classic ‘Pasta Amatriciana’ from the actual area where the earthquake struck to raise cash to support the effected people…. Cash raised will go to the Italian Red Cross – Croce Rossa Italiana #every1counts #elbi”

Oliver also posted a photo to Instagram, telling his followers that “this could really make a difference.”

“I think we can easily make thousands and thousands of pounds to help,” Oliver wrote.

The founder of Slow Food International, Carlo Petrini, has also asked restaurateurs worldwide to “put the symbolic dish of this devastated town on their menus.”

Campana’s effort is also generating a remarkable amount of interest on social media under the hashtag #virtualsagra.

“Let’s hope that it [Amatrice] will be reborn again,” Luca Palombini, the assistant chef at Hotel Roma where the festival usually takes place, told the Associated Press on Friday, speaking from the San Salvatore Hospital in L’Aquila and recovering from a broken foot. “Amatriciana will be even better, the Spaghetti all’amatriciana. I hope it will be reborn and that we will move forward, even better than before.”

[Photo by Gregorio Borgia/AP Images]

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