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Spaghetti All’Amatriciana

Amore per Amatrice

The news of this week’s 6.2 quake in Central Italy shook me, halfway around the world. The epicenter is close to the town where my great-grandfather came from, Salle, which itself was destroyed in a quake in 1933. In this case, the hardest hit was the town of Amatrice, whence comes one of Italy’s most iconic dishes. The historic center of the town has been essentially obliterated, as well as in two other towns, with hundreds of casualties.

Sadly, this weekend was meant to be the 50th annual festival in that town celebrating that dish, the Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. Needless to say, that isn’t going to happen, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tuck into a plate of pasta. Indeed, quite the opposite.

Restaurants around the country are rallying, serving the dish and donating proceeds, including newly opened Barzotto on Valencia Street at 24th. Though they do not invoke the name of the dish, the menu simply outlines the classic combination of bucatini, pancetta, tomatoes, and chili flakes. Barzotto makes their fresh and dry pastas in house in plain view in their open kitchen. While there, sample the porchetta, too. Trust.

Update 9/16: Two upcoming events are set to raise even more funds for the cause.

  • SF AMAtrice on September 25 will serve antipasti, pinsa, pasta all’amatriciana, vino, Negronis, Aperol Spritzes, Americanos, dolci, and gelato from several of the city’s finest Italian restaurants. Four seatings are available between 12-8 pm at 54 Mint, $75. Tickets available here.
  • An Evening in Amatrice on October 1 features 18 Reasons’ resident Italians, instructor Viola Buitoni and Baia Pasta founder Dario Barbone, as they showcase the culinary traditions of Central Italy to raise funds for the reconstruction effort. $50 members, $60 non-members. Tickets available here.

Individuals are putting their pasta where their mouth is, too. Mike Madaio proposed an event, where you donate to the cause (Domenica Marchetti has a great list of ways to donate), eat Amatriciana with a glass of wine from Central Italy this weekend, and share a picture with the hastag #VirtualSagra to make it go viral. So why not have some friends over Saturday or Sunday, serve up a big bowl of pasta, and contribute to the greater good?

Guanciale, cured pork jowl, is preferable if you can get it; sometimes Fatted Calf has it. Pancetta will do in a pinch. Purists will tell you that onions are never to be included. Contrarians will say onions are essential. I’m pro-onion, but to each their own. Bucatini is a more popular choice, but spaghetti is what’s served in Amatrice. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure pasta. I posted a recipe a few years back, when I cured guanciale for the first time.

Whether you serve it or order it, please donate, and please help spread the word.