I confess: every time I book a trip somewhere, one of the first things I research about the place I’m going to is what kind of food, preferably traditional and peculiar, I can try there. Food is definitely in my top 3 favourite things in life (please don’t ask me what the other two are) and always represents a huge turn on for me when I’m travelling, because being adventurous is needed!
Paragliding, bungee jumping, hiking the Himalayas are experiences that cannot be compared with the adventure that is having a big plate of whatever-that-is from a country you never been to before right in front of you. Filling our immaculate mouth with a questionable mixture of ingredients of unrecognised taste without even knowing if we hold enough antibodies to survive its digestion, is a task only for the bravest. It needs guts. Literally.
Culinary dramas apart, there is no secret about how Italian cuisine is incredibly awesome and here in Sardinia things are not much different, yet Sardinian people insist to declare they are not “Italians” (long story). As well as in other Italian regions, Sardinia also has its own traditional and unique dishes that only can be tasted on the island, paired with the equally distinctive wines, brews and spirits produced here (I promise to talk about them in another post).
Having tried a little of everything in these almost three years I’ve been living in this land, I put together a whole menu to persuade you (or not) to come over here on your next food adventure – bearing in mind that weird, tasty and disgusting are merely point of views:
This Sardinian extremely thin and crispy flatbread will be seen on every single table on every single restaurant in the island. It’s delicious and slightly addictive – it’s really difficult to stop eating it whilst we wait for the next course.
Whilst there is nothing especially distinctive about the cold meats here, we find the Pecorino cheese as the real star of the antipasto boards. And it’s the perfect pair for the Carasau bread. Just don’t forget you have more courses to come.
Being a Mediterranean island, Sardinia produces amazing and abundant seafood. Mussels, squid, octopus, prawns come straight from the sea to your plate – it can’t get any fresher! Although a variety of dishes make use of seafood, for me they taste better in the salads, combined with potatoes and dressed only with lemon juice and olive oil.
PRIMO PIATTO (FIRST COURSE)
Malloreddus alla Campidanese
It looks like a big plate of worms, but it’s actually Malloreddus, the weirdly shaped Sardinian gnocchi. It’s normally served with a sauce made with tomatoes, sausages, basil and topped with grated Pecorino cheese.
Fregola with Vongole
Fregola is a type of really tiny pasta that always results into an awesome creamy dish after cooked. Fregola can be served in a lot of ways, but vongole is a very common combination.
Culurgiones are also known as Sardinian ravioli, but for me they look more like a dumpling. It’s filled with a mixture of potato, pecorino cheese and mint, and can be served with either tomato sauce and grated cheese, or simply with butter and sage (my favourite). Although it’s delicious, for me it’s the most disappointing dish to be ordered in a restaurant: we never can count more than 5 culurgiones on the plate. Be prepared!
Spaghetti ai Ricci con Bottarga di Muggine
Who doesn’t like a big plate of spaghetti? Here this traditional type of pasta is served with sea urchins and cured mullet roe. If you like fish, you will find the taste pretty decent.
SECONDO PIATTO (SECOND COURSE)
In this section, I feel I have to say goodbye to you, my vegetarian readers. The next lines are going to be a bit rough to read. If you’re not vegetarian or not that sensitive, take a breath and keep reading.
For those who love pork as much as I do, this is the dish to try. Porceddu is a slow cooked suckling pig. A baby, I know. But trust me: when you taste that tender and succulent meat and hear the noise of its crispy skin cracking in your first bite, you will completely get over it and enjoy every second.
Lumache al Sugo
This is the only dish of this menu I haven’t tried and I probably won’t. And it’s not even because I feel disgusted about eating snails, it’s only because to me, it looks too much hassle to eat it, and I just cannot be bothered of digging every single shell to find what’s in there to be eaten. Time is precious after all. The snails are served with tomato sauce.
I remember really well a huge scandal in UK a few years ago involving horse meat. Here in Sardinia horse steaks are very common and expensive as well. I’ve never been a massive fan of red meat, but horse meat is really tender, delicate to the palate and I unfortunately don’t eat it nearly enough. Medium rare is the best way to appreciate this delicacy.
This dish consists of the internal organs (kidneys, livers, heart, etc, etc) of goat or lamb kept together by a big skewer and interlaced by intestines. I had the roasted version but apparently the most common way to serve is cooked in a sauce pan with peas as shown in the picture. You’re not going to find this dish in a restaurant menu, but if you’re visiting an Agriturismo, they may introduce it to you. At least now you know what it is.
Sebadas is a fried pastry filled with cheese and honey. It works.
I could eat hundreds of those! These almond based biscuits are a classic Italian after-dinner treat, and here in Sardinia they taste even better (I don’t know why, but I swear!)
Have you ever tried those? Would you? Let us know in the comments!