Food and Wine of Sardinia, FOOD & WINE

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FOOD & WINE >> Food and Wine of Sardinia

Food and Wine of Sardinia

A splendid, archaic and pastoral island, Sardinia with intelligence is taking advantage of its tourist industry, attracted by the white beaches, emerald sea, isolated coves, among the most beautiful of all the Mediterranean. But despite being an island, Sardinia is not so much a land of fishermen as of shepherds. For thousands of years Sardinians gazed at the sea with a prudent respect, but used the products of the earth for their cuisine. Antique rites and profound symbolism still live in their traditional celebrations.

At Orroli, for the feast of St. Catherine, country people gather on the grassy lawn next to the sanctuary and after having slaughtered young goats roast them over fragrant wood. At Siurgus, for the feast of the bachelors, eligible young women bake sweets and breads in strange shapes and eat for three days and nights around the head of the spits and rivers of wine. Obviously, after these celebrations, the list of eligible men and women shrinks considerably.

In every corner of Sardinia there's a world to discover. Towns and villages that cling to age-old customs, and extraordinary gastronomic curiosities. At Cabras, for example, they still prepare a rare specialty, "merca" made with muggini, small fish captured in the ponds of a natural preserve that are boiled in salt water. Once cooked they are wrapped in perfumed herbs tied with string. The fish is thus kept for several days, the length depending on the amount of salt in the water. Thrush are also prepared in the same manner. They are called "sa tacculas" in dialect and are plucked and boiled, then closed in canvas bags with myrtle leaves. After a couple of days they are ready to serve. In some villages the hen is first boiled and then wrapped in tender branches of myrtle and stored for a day or two. It is possible that these methods of preparation came from the necessity of the shepherds to take their food with them when out in the fields for several days before returning home.

Sardinian cooking is made of pasta and soups, of white meat and pork and finally vegetables, including the celebrated artichokes. The spit is often used and the Sardinians are masters of maintaining the tenderness of the meat while cooking it just right. Sheep, lamp, milk-fed baby pigs, even fish are carefully cooked and turned without ever being burned by the flame. Local brush and plants are used to add to the flavour.

Other favorite Sardinian dishes include stuffing pasta with meat and dipping it in beaten egg, chicken stuffed with regaglie, bread crumbs, milk and egg, snails prepared with tomato and garlic or parsley, oil, garlic and breadcrumbs, or again roasted, filled with a sauce made from egg and breadcrumbs and roasted again, or the various fish dishes. The lobsters of Alghero are boiled live and served with olive oil, salt, and a few drops of lemon. Sometimes a sauce with bits of lobster is served with pasta, or "spaghetti alla bottarga" which is the eggs of the female lobster, pressed and dried in the sun. "Carta da musica" a frisable bread, light and tasty, is often carried by the shepherds as a snack.

Sardinia also has its own sweets based on almonds, orange and lime peel, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts, and honey. Long-standing traditions mean that every special feast-day has its own typical dessert


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