Eat Amatriciana for Amatrice
By now, many of us will have seen the devastation caused by the earthquake in Central Italy this week. The epicentre was close to the town of Amatrice. This is an area famous for the Amatriciana pasta sauce central to Roman cuisine. Amatrice was getting ready for its 50th annual festival celebrating their beloved dish this weekend.
There are enough distressing scenes and reports out there without me adding to that. Instead, I’m suggesting that we can help by eating Amatriciana.
Amatriciana is an Italian classic with a long and sometimes disputed history. Most agree it originated as simple peasant fare in Amatrice before becoming popular in Rome. It’s simple yet utterly delicious and there are only four ingredients: cured pork, tomatoes, cheese, and peppers. Romans often posh it up with onions, garlic, basil and a splash of wine. As for the pasta, Spaghetti is typical, Rigatoni will work, but Bucatini is best. Bucatini is a larger diameter spaghetti that soaks up the Amatriciana sauce.
Given the simplicity of the ingredients, it’s a doddle to make and incredibly cheap. I reckon you could make enough Amatriciana for four people for a couple of pounds, maybe less.
What I’d like us to do is make the dish at home and, with the money you saved, donate it to the British Red Cross, who have set up an appeal fund for Amatrice. You can do that here. They’ve made giving almost as easy as making Amatriciana!
As for the recipe, there are many online, but this one from Mario Batali is excellent. If you can get the cured pork cheek traditionally used, called Guanciale, great. If not, substitute pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon. Pecorino Romano is the cheese you need. That’s easy to find, but parmesan will do.
Easy? Even clumsy me can do it! I’ll be making mine tonight and serving it up with an Italian red wine to wash it down! Colli della Sebina Rosso is authentic, but any inexpensive Sangiovese or Montepulciano is just dandy.
Now, if you don’t want to make Amatriciana, then find a decent local Italian restaurant and order it there! It is such a favourite that it is usually on the menu. This week, Slow Food have been campaigning to get Italian Restaurants to donate €2 to the Red Cross for every dish served. That initiative has had a terrific response and there are already 700 participating restaurants. This idea is now spreading beyond Italy. So if your restaurant isn’t already involved, ask them why not and spread the word!
Eating Amatriciana is a fun way of making a difference and showing support. I hope you agree.
Meanwhile, if you enjoy making simple but brilliant Italian food, then try Spaghetti alla Norma from Sicily here.