With 1,149 miles of coastline, it may come as a surprise that meats, cheeses, and pasta, not fish, are the oldest staples of a Sardinian diet. However, you will now find many seafood dishes are popular and even considered “traditional” in Sardinia. Aside from a few, many of these dishes date back no more than a few centuries. That’s relatively young, by Sardinian standards.
It is no secret that the Sardinian people are known to have very healthy, long lives. The amount of seafood in their diet may contribute to their overall excellent health. Studies have shown that eating seafood can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, can lower blood pressure and may even help ward off depression. The reason for this is the “magic” ingredient found in most seafood: omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, herring, grey mullet and sardines are loaded with these beneficial fats. This healthy fat can lower the triglyceride levels in the bloodstream, lessen the aches and pains of joint diseases, and boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medications.
A wide variety of fish, mussels, and shellfish can be found off the Sardinian coast. The recipe section of this website, and our cookbook “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey”, have many recipes featuring fresh seafood. One of the most uniquely Sardinian seafood ingredients is, of course, bottarga. Bottarga is the salted, pressed and dried roe (eggs) of the grey mullet, one of the staple fish harvests from the Mediterranean Sea. Bottarga is often served simply as an appetizer with olive oil or lemon juice, accompanied by bread. You can find recipes using bottarga here on our website; and you can purchase it for yourself to try at home.
Pecorino Sardo is a firm cheese from Sardinia, that is made from sheep’s milk. The flavor of this cheese can differ slightly, depending on the region and the aging process. It was awarded Denominazione d'Origine status in 1991, meaning that for a cheese to be called Pecorino Sardo, it has to come from Sardinia.
Pecorino Sardo is not as well known outside Italy as the Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Tuscano varieties. The flavor of the Sardo variety is more rich, not as salty as the more well known Pecorino Romano. However, a great deal of the Pecorino Romano sold outside Italy is actually made in Sardinia, as Sardinia is within Romano's PDO (protected designation of origin) area.
“A Chent’Annos” is a traditional Sardinian toast. It translates to “May You Live to One Hundred”. In Sardinia, such longevity is not all that unusual.
In 2012, with a population of approximately 1.6 million, Sardinia was confirmed to have the world's highest percentage of people who lived to 100 years, according to the Guardian newspaper of the U.K. At that time, over 300 of Sardinia’s population had reached the century mark. That is twenty times greater than the number of people who live that long in the United States!
What might be the secret to the Sardinian’s long life? While genetics and culture certainly play a part, the impact of the healthy Sardinian diet is a major factor.
The typical Sardinian diet is rich in healthy nutrients from fresh locally grown vegetables and grains, prepared simply with olive oil and served with lemon, garlic and other spices. This diet is particularly rich in proteins derived from milk and cheese, while being low on sugary food and meat. In fact, some Sardinians will tell you they might eat meat only once or twice a week.
Authentic Sardinian food is delicious and healthy. It can easily become part of your family’s diet. You can buy ingredients here from our online market. Also, visit our restaurant, Arcodoro in Houston, TX, for delicious meals. Recipes can be found here on this website, and in the award winning cookbook, “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey”.
Sardinia is a unique island, where the sheep outnumber the people approximately three to one. Wild produce and herbs grow in abundance, and a special kind of tree blossom yields an unusual honey that is described as both sweet and bitter. In his award winning book, “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey”, Efisio Farris takes you on a tour of this lovely island nation; sharing history, family stories, and recipes.
This book is more than just a cook book. In addition to ingredients and instructions, Efisio has a personal story for each recipe. His personal descriptions and meaningful remembrances of these recipes make them all the more tempting. “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey” also shares quite a bit of Sardinian history and traditions. Reading through this book is like being invited into a Sardinian kitchen. It is filled with a treasury of over 200 beautiful photographs of tempting food and glorious Sardinian scenery. There are also several recipes from “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey” here on this website. We hope you will make these meals for your family, and that happy memories will be shared while enjoying them.
Sardinian Rice is a prized ingredient; known for having excellent flavor absorption. Most Sardinian rice comes from the Oristano region, where the low flood plains of the Tirso River Valley, gentle sea breezes, and mild temperatures combine to create ideal growing conditions.
Saba is an ancient Italian sauce, dating back to the Roman Empire. It is made by cooking grape “must” (freshly pressed, unfiltered grape juice) slowly until it is reduced to a thick, syrupy liquid. It has a slightly sweet, fruity flavor. Saba is the main ingredient in the production of traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena. Historical writings from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sources indicate the use of grape must, and balsamic vinegars, date back to around 1000 A.D.