Do you remember the Amatrice earthquakes from three years ago? You might have already been familiar with the name thanks to their infamous selection of local Amatrice, Italian pasta sauces. However, not too long ago, tragedy struck and hundreds of lives were lost, almost 400 were injured, the town flattened and livelihoods disappeared for the thousands made homeless.
Recently, chefs were flown into Dublin’s Royal Dublin Society for An Evening to Remember, to especially blend the Italian flavours and showcase the area’s organic hams and cheeses. “Amatrice is still open for business,’’ says Dr Stefano d’Orazio “despite the ongoing tragedy.”
Locals are rehoused in wooden mobile homes and as many as 15 bars and restaurants have shifted down the road to an innovative purpose-built foodie village, which has become a hit with Italian tourists keen to support the redevelopment project. A voluntary association Terri de Amatrice has been founded to spread the word and beg the world to continue to buy the assorted delicacies.
Youngsters from a local catering college have been in Dublin to learn English, and speciality food shops and delis are being encouraged to buy in from the area. “It’s a huge project of self-determination,” says Gemma Maughan, who’s ancestors came from the area. “Even if someone here in Ireland ordered a chunk of cheese or ham on-line it would mean so much to the local people – they are not looking for hand-outs but want to be remembered and to continue their business with pride so as to maintain their community.”
The members of the Associazione Terra Di Amatrice -all descendants from families in Amatrice – have funded initiatives to help in the town’s regeneration. This includes the funding of the students learning English in Dublin, scholarships in both Tuscia and Perugia universities, as well as the Amatrice School of Hotel Management, and agricultural research projects. They have also trademarked “Made in Amatrice” as the local market was inundated with fake products capitalising on the restoration projects. It is hoped this trademark will become familiar in Irish food stores.
“Food is after all the heart of Amatrice – and hearts are still beating – despite the heartbreak,” says Mrs Maughan.
We’ve always been of the belief that food brings people together, which is why we find it especially warming to hear that that’s exactly how the rest of the world can show their support for this Italian town.