The Seadas 0 Comments

The Seadas

I write about it often on this blog. Sardinia is correctly well known for its beaches, for its crystalline sea with countless and wonderful shades of blue up to the emerald blue which gave its name to one of its famous coasts. And is lastly known for the bouquet of scents generated from herbs and fragrant shrubs, such as sea junipers, rosemary, myrtle, helichrysum...

But Sardinia is not just this: over the years its cuisine has been able to conquer the world cuisine scene, today registered with 198 Sardinian foods in the list of Typical Agri-Food Products (PAT), with products such as: Abbamele, Bottarga, The Sardo-Modicana Cattle Breed meat, Sa Cordula, Su Filindeu, excellence from the Pasta of Sardinia, Filu ‘E Ferru, Sapa de figu morisca, syrup for desserts obtained by cooking the pulp and juice of Sa Figu Morisca, Sa Pompìa, Sardinian Rice, Saffron, and others, including the seada, of which I want to write today, the Sardinian dessert par excellence.

It is a dessert from "poor" cuisine prepared with simple ingredients. A semolina dough shaped into a pocket, filled with fresh cheese melted over a very low heat, which dough, once closed, is fried and then enfolded in honey. The origins of its name are a bit controversial: seada, sebada, seatta, sevada, as it is called in the different areas of the island. It could originate from the Spanish cebar, "to feed, to nourish", given the long dominion of Spain in Sardinia, but could also originate from the Sardinian term sebu/seu, animal fat, due to the use of lard in the preparation. But from seu also derives the verb asseare, go souer, whose feminine adjective is asseadas, and therefore soured, perhaps due to the souring of the fresh cheese, fundamental to the recipe.

Originally, however, the seada was a savoury dish, which women prepared when the shepherds returned from transhumance, for Christmas or Easter. They were as large as the plate and it was often a single course, tasty and nutritious. Then as time passed honey was added and the dimensions were reduced, thus becoming a dessert.

There are two main ingredients to prepare an excellent seada: pasta and cheese filling. The pasta, known in Sardinian as violada or violata, is prepared with wheat semolina, working the dough slowly, flattening, stretching and folding until a smooth and elastic mixture is obtained. The cheese (unsalted Sardinian goat cheese) must be very fresh and slightly acidic. To make it sour, they wrap it with a wet cloth and leave it like that for a couple of days. The rich taste of the cheese complements well with the sweetness of the honey in a delicious contrast of flavours.

There are also variations in the preparation of the seada, depending on the different locations. In some areas the cheese is not cooked, in others cow's milk cheese and not goat's milk cheese is used, some areas prefer the addition of lemon or orange zest, while in others the lard is replaced with olive oil, or sugar instead of honey is used. There are also those who use eggs for the dough which were not foreseen in the traditional recipe.

But with goat's or cow's cheese, raw or cooked, with lemon or orange zest, lard or oil, the Sardinian seada is a flagship of Sardinian gastronomy appreciated even outside the island borders.

“... that is precisely what is so good about the moment devoted to pastries; they can only be appreciated to the full extent of their subtlety when they are not eaten to assuage our hunger, ...but to coat our palate with all the benevolence of the world.” (Muriel Barbery)


Written by Daniela Toti

Tags: food

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