Dining Out in Cagliari
The challenge of Sardinian cuisine - ✈️ TRAVEL
I am in Cagliari, Sardinia, where I will be helping English instructors learn new teaching methods. I am more than thrilled to be in such an exotic location, working with these lovely Italians. I ask them to please call me Sharron, they say, “Yes, of course!” and continue addressing me as Professoressa.
As it is my first night here in this grand, almost tropical city, the senior teachers invite me out for a special treat. They are taking me to dinner at a very small local restaurant, one that is “so secret that tourists never discover it,” they say. A hidden treasure. It’s a warm, balmy evening, the light breeze carries the fragrance of tangerines, the tang of seaweed and fish. We stroll a while through small serpentine back streets until we come to a nondescript door with a tiny plaque that says Ristorante Canne al Vento.
The dining room is no more than fifteen by fifteen. There are six tables and a forest of tall potted plants. The proprietor emerges from the kitchen and shakes hands with everyone, kissing cheeks as if they are family members. Some of them, no doubt, are family members. He shakes my hand and welcomes the Professoressa, but leaves out the kissing part.
The rather formal waiter hands out glasses of Cannonau, Sardinia's signature red wine, and menus that are single xeroxed sheets just for this evening’s fare. It is in Italian only. My command of the language is serviceable, but not great – which is fine, as the teachers want to practice their English with me anyway. Let’s see, what do we have…?
Riccio del Mare……………….. live sea urchin? Ah…no, thank you.
Zuppa di trippa………….cow stomach soup? I don’t think so..
Bistecca di Cavallo……..horse steak? Definitely not
Cordula con Piselli……sheep intestines with peas? You’re kidding, right?
Piedini di Maiale…………….pigs feet? Maybe next time.
Now, friends, you only have to look at me to know I am not a fussy eater, but I am beginning to get nervous. Is there anything here I have ever even thought of eating? How embarrassing.
Fave crude… raw fava beans the size of golf balls? Tempting, but no.
Polpo con patate………….a salad of octopus and potato? Pass.
Seppie en su tinta….……cuttlefish cooked in its own ink? Yeeeks
Finocchio……………………..fennel? Now you’re talking! This I can eat!
Sanguaccio…………………blood sausage? No.
Peccorino con pane …sheep cheese and bread? Okay! Good. Whew!
They all place their orders and then each one looks over at me in anticipation. Which of these culinary delights will the Professoressa choose? I order the peccorino, pane and finocchio. They all appear dismayed. I have let them down.
Marina takes my hand. “Ma! Non è abbastanza! “ (It is not enough!) They all shake their heads and all speaking at once, ply me with suggestions.
Fabio, a no-nonsense kind of guy, turns to the waiter, “Giorgio, per favore. Le lumache per la professoressa.”
“Prego, Signore,” the waiter nods and goes off to the kitchen.
Fabio, in order to augment my dinner of bread, cheese and fennel, has ordered the snails for me. I keep smiling. And drinking.
Fortunately, when my dinner arrives, I find that my snails are, happily, not of the garden variety, but rather they are large, buttered, spiral shells .…….. of pasta. Fabio nods and winks at me. I owe him one.
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