“Why Sardinia?” I often heard from others while I was working on this book. The simple answer is that I have been fascinated with Sardinia for a long time. In 1995, a bus driver in Tuscany asked me if I was Sardinian. The question made me beam with pride. As time went on, I was asked the same question again and again, and I was always flattered. I am not sure it was always meant as a compliment—after all, many Italians see Sardinia as a world unto itself, an isolated and unfamiliar place—but I took it as such. I was proud to be considered Sardinian even before I visited the majestic island. All the Sardinians I had ever met, after all, were impressive people: kind, generous, proud of their island, and always eager to share its stories and traditions.
Over the years, Sardinia stayed on my mind. When I tasted my first sebada in a class at Apicius, a cooking school in Florence, I wondered how this treat came to be. Who came up with the brilliant idea to stuff dough with fresh, soft cheese, fry it to a crisp, and drizzle bitter honey on it? A genius, I decided. And thus my desire to see Sardinia and taste more of her pleasures grew.
When I finally visited Sardinia, I found countless fascinating traditions, tantalizing flavors, unexpected combinations, and never-before-seen dishes. They fueled my desire to get to know the island and its people. On return trips, I delved deeper into the island’s history, traditions, and unique foods. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know—because it is difficult to say that you truly know Sardinia. Around every corner, in every kitchen imprinted with the cooking of generations, there lies a new story, a new recipe, a new treasure to be discovered. So, my pursuit of the delicious continues.
In this book, I have gathered traditional Sardinian recipes that were generously shared with me by cooks of all ages—both professionals and home cooks who have lovingly fed their families and friends for years. Sardinians opened their homes and hearts to me and treated me to unforgettable experiences every culinary explorer longs for. This book is dedicated to them. I hope I can do them, and their island, justice.