Although I had some truly delicious food while I was in Sardinia, I was slightly disappointed that there were a few local delicacies that I didn’t get the chance to try. I’m going to put it down to being on the wrong part of the island for some of them, and not having the right transport to venture into the hills (the Sardinian countryside does not lend itself well to pedestrians: the only argument we had on the trip was whether to walk home down the side of a motorway with no pavement, or to walk home along an unlit country road that we’d only used once before, in broad daylight).
I’ve already decided that I want to go back to Sardinia, this time armed with a camper van.
So what will I be trying to get my lips around next time?
I had wanted to try it this time around, but was too scared to ask any of the locals about where to get it from! Cazu Marzu is probably the most famous Sardinian food, for all the wrong reasons. The regional D.O.C cheese, Pecorino Sardo Maturo, is left to fester well beyond the stage of ‘fermented’ and onto ‘decomposition’. Disgusting enough, but then add in the live cheese fly larvae writhing around and it takes it to a whole new level!
Apparently you have to shield your eyes when you’re eating as the little blighters can jump up to 6 inches! If you’re too much of a wimp to eat live larvae, then apparently you can put your cheese in a bag and suffocate them. You’ll hear a sound like popcorn as they try to escape, and once that stops you can eat. Gnarly.
The one thing that freaks me out most about Cazu Marzu is that the larvae can survive the digestion process and set up home in your intestines. Which is fine until they start boring through your intestinal wall, leaving you with bloody diaohroeah.
I’m really not making any friends in the vegetarian sector, am I? Porcheddu is little baby piglets, roasted. Traditionally this is done over oak chips in a hole in the ground, with the local herb mirto. Apparently this is eaten all across the island, although I can’t remember coming across it in Posada or La Caletta (then again we didn’t eat out very much; with our self catering holiday and a basic grasp of Italian we managed to live like royalty on a very small budget).
I love a good hog roast, so I’m afraid to say porcheddu will be on the list. Sorry PETA.
They might look spiny and scary, but sea urchin
s are apparently rather palatable. A traditional Sardinian dish is pasta al Ricci, which involves a sauce made from sea urchins (and tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, etc). According to Travel Food Phil, it tastes the way that sea air smells.
The best way to try sea urchin is attending the sea urchin festival, Sagra Del Bogamari, which is held in Alghero during January and February. I’m definitely adding it to my bucket list; the thought of standing on the lido tucking into a halved sea urchin with a slice of bread and red wine during what would be the height of winter in Scotland seems far too tempting.
More commonly known as ‘Sardinian caviar’, bottarga is pressed and dried smoked mullet roe. From the sounds of it, locals treat it in a similar way to parmesan or truffles and grate it onto salads and pasta. It’s mostly produced in the South, around Cagliari, but a quick Google search shows me that there’s a big export market for this delicacy. Of course this piques my interest, so next time I jet off to Sardinia I’ll be keeping an eye out especially for it.
We actually saw this in a few shops, but never got around to trying it. The Myrtle, or Mirto, seems to be very popular in Sardinia. Although it’s not strictly a food, I reckon it will be worth having a little sip. Particularly if I want to wipe the memory of eating live maggots out of my mind. Yeuch!
I’ve since learned that most Sardinian restaurants are happy to provide some local delicacies: just go in and ask for the Menu Degustazione which is what I’ll be doing the next time I visit this wonderful island.