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PASTA: a strong tradition of Sardinia 0 Comments

PASTA: a strong tradition of Sardinia

"Life is a combination of pasta and magic." (Federico Fellini)

Pasta in Sardinia, rich in wheat since ever, has its peculiarities to be discovered. We know that remains of wheat have been found in the nuraghe ancient ruins, we can therefore estimate that wheat has been farmed in Sardinia since the Bronze Age.

Being the ingredients always and only durum wheat semolina, water, salt and sun, as for bread pasta has many variations according to the tradition areas.

The best known pasta in Sardinia is probably Fregula pasta, together with Sardinian "gnocchetti", Malloreddus, Culurgiònes and Lorighittas. Precious and most rare are the Filindeus, described by most chefs, food bloggers and tv reporters as the magic allurement of Sardinia pasta.

Fregula, so typical of the island, could be the equivalent of the Middle East couscous, both for preparation and form, though the grains of the fregula are bigger and more significant. The dough is prepared of durum wheat semolina,  water and salt in a large and deep container, working it with an expert circular motion of the hands until small "balls” are formed, which are left to dry on a cloth on open air and then baked in the oven to get their typical golden colour. Fregula is good for soups, or served with tomato sauce and sea products, in coastal areas, or with sausages or meat in upcountry areas. Fregula can be black or white, according to the ingredients used in the original recepie.

Malloreddus: the Sardinian term means "calf". When the durum wheat semolina was mixed with water and salt and the gnocchi were made of a rounded shape, the expression of the peasant world was just "beautiful like a calf", like a Malloreddu. It is a must that Malloreddus have to be flavoured by fresh Sardinian pecorino, which more than anything else honors the taste of pasta being the indivisible link between the food and its origin area. Malloreddus can be dressed in different ways but the most popular is indeed with sausage sauce.

Culurgiònes, the classic ravioli of Sardinia, are a specialty considered also a precious gift, a gesture of respect to show esteem and affection. They are prepared for typical festivities as Thanksgiving at the end of the wheat harvest, or to remember and honor the dead and to celebrate Carnival. They are filled with fresh pecorino or fresh ricotta or potatoes with garlic and mint. In the sardinian region of Gallura they often flavor them with lemon and orange scent, dressed with tomato sauce and pork ribs, or alternatively with tomato sauce and fresh sausage, all seasoned with grated pecorino cheese.

Lorighittas: it takes years of practice and craftiness to prepare the Lorighittas pasta, as the shape is their main pecularity as no machine is able to do them. Here's the movement to obtain this unique shape: wrap a double strand of pasta between the fingers of one hand and, after breaking its head, with a rapid movement twist the two wires, giving it the typical narrow-knit shape. They are usually dressed with free-range cockerel sauce and seasoned tomatoes or with simple tomato sauce. Often combined with roasted boar and porceddu pork, they become very tasty and even more precious. Nowadays Lorighittas is a specialty included in the National Register of Traditional Food Products and it is a Slow Food Presidia.

"Su Filindeu" or Filindeus: since the BBC English TV came to Sardinia to learn about this incredible pasta, these "threads of God" are considered the rarest pasta in the world, linked to the religious tradition of St. Francis of Lula, a Barbagian village. A three hundred years old technique handed down from mother to daughter to these days. Laborious, particular and complex, the preparation of Su Filindeu starts with a simple dough of durum wheat semolina, water and salt. When the dough is ready, it is pulled between the two hands folding it eight times, until it separates into many small filaments. These are placed in three layers, crossing the lines to get a fine and subtile mesh. Then are laid in the sun where they dry out by sticking one layer on the other and obtaining a precious pasta web, which smells of grain, of sun, of holiness. At the feast of Saint Francis, the pilgrims are offered a broth made with sheep meat in which this wonderful Slow Food Presidia is cooked. It's difficult preparation has made it the rarest pasta in the world, as most chefs tried to learn this ancient craft of preparation but were not able to complete the task.

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written by Daniela Toti

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