Abruzzo’s regional capital L’Aquila, suffered a major earthquake, a few hours past midnight on April 6, 2009 and with a devastating force caused major destruction in L’Aquila and surrounding communities. The loss of lives exceeded 300 people and included many with relatives in California.
The Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California immediately created a committee to organize fundraisers on behalf of L’Aquila earthquake victims, with Bartolomeo Inglese as chairman within weeks, with a diversity of individuals, families and organizations donating music, food and funds nearly a hundred grand was raised.
In Northern California, Lorenzo Scarpone president of Villa Italia Gourmet (210 Littlefield Rd. So. San Francisco, CA. 94080, tel. 650.873.6060) a pioneer Slow Food activist, quickly set up a website, “Sustain Abruzzo”, so that beyond the initial financial assistance a market place could be created to help small agricultural producers find a market for their products long after the earthquake dust had settled.
There are hundreds of small farmers, shepherds, artisans and producers of honey and preserves who work in small village scattered in the high mountains of Abruzzi who still need more buyers for their products. The earthquake dust has settled, but the need for a market place for the small producers of Abruzzi is still great. I urge all of you with friends or relatives in the food business to get the word out.
I did and you can start, by going to www.sustainabruzzo. com. Here are a few producers: Azienda Agricola Galano Enzo A dairy farm that produces mozzarella and cheese in Fossa, Aquila. Collevernesco Honey Producer in S. Elia, Aquila www.dolceabruzzo.it Dolci Aveja Sweets and Local Liqueurs in Ocre, Aquila www.dolciaveja.it Fratelli Nurzia Torrone (Nougat) and sweets in, Aquila www.torronenurzia.it Elodia nel Parco-Ursini Traditional Aquiline sauces in Camarda, Aquila Ugo De Paulis S.A.S Salumi producer in Paganica, Aquila Gentile Vini Wine Producer in Ofena.
Joe Pace, owner of Joe Pace & Sons in Massachusetts, heard about “Sustain Abruzzo” from my godson, Anthony Cannistraci, who gave him a list of small producers to check out. Joe followed through and on a recent trip to Italy with his friends, left the local economy in a better state than they found it with more benefits to come; like establishing an exchange program with the Villa Santa Maria Cooking School (Chieti Abruzzo), funding the construction of an Italian Cultural Center in the Medieval town of Goriano Sicoli, with his friends Filippo Frataroli of Filippo Ristorante, Domenic Susi of Sulmona Meat markets and Michael Abruzzese of Roman ironworks hosting young students from Abruzzo, in Boston so they can enroll in English courses and practice their newly acquired skills as temp Pace Business employees, hosting chefs from the Abruzzo region in his new restaurant, named after his mother, Rosaria’s in Saugus, Massachusetts and of course ordering products from producers of Italian specialties, for his food stores and restaurant in America, at 42 Cross St., 72 Blossom St. and 1 Park Lane in Boston, Massachusetts and 190 Main St, his J. Pace & Son flagship store in Saugus, Massachusetts.
Joe Pace, now 65, was born in the small town of Orsogna, in the Abruzzo region and came to America at the age of 9. As was typical during that time, half the family would migrate first and later the remaining family members would come. So, first, Nicolò and his daughter, Maria, came to America and a year later mother Rosaria and son, Joe, arrived. Nicolò and Rosaria established themselves in America working hard to first establish the neighborhood Italian “Groceria”.
Old timers still remember when Joe’s father Nicolò Pace opened a small “Groceria” in Boston’s historic North End back in the 1960’s.
Although many things have changed since then, some things haven’t.
People still appreciate a quality selection of fresh meat, bread, cheese, produce and desserts, made and sold with a personal touch. And people still love the traditional ingredients, those specialty items that only Italian markets and restaurants sell. Now following in Nicolò’s footsteps, his son, Joe, and grandson, Joe Jr. still invite customers to capture the taste of Italy at J. Pace & Son, in five locations. In the greater Boston area J. Pace & Son is becoming the only specialty food operation, among all the competition, that focuses on an “Italian Groceria” with produce meat market, bakery, dine-in and/or take-out, catering, gift baskets, prepared foods, and now Rosaria’s, a new restaurant and Function Facility all under one roof at (J. Pace & Son, 190 Main Street, Saugus, MA 01906 (781.231.9599).
Joe also promises to stock an “abbondanza” of new products from Abruzzo, like sugared almond floral arrangements from Confetti Pelino & Bomboniera (Sulmona), Il Feuduccio Abruzzo Wines (Chieti Abruzzo), Fratelli Nurza Torrone (Aquila) and much more since Joe’s friend, Filippo Fratarolli of Filippo’s Ristorante maintains a residence in Sulmona and is personally following up on “Sustain Abruzzo” producers.