The traditional Sardinian cuisine is well known for its simple, but very tasty meals. They are strongly influenced by the local traditions and the weather conditions of the island. The most ancient and frequent job was (and in some areas of the island still is) the shepherding. The basic ingredients are those that the Sardinians grow in the fields or breed in the grazing lands of the island. The most numerous are the herds of sheep. There are about 7 millions of sheep living in Sardinia.
Among the first course there are various kinds of hand made pasta: Sardinian gnocchi, malloreddus, culurgiones. They all have different shapes and size and usually are served with tomato sauce topping enriched by sheep meat. Zuppa cuatta seems to be lasagne, but the ingredients are different: bread, cheese and meat. This is the speciality of Gallura region.
Sheep meat is an original speciality from the Sardinian hinterland Barbagia, nowadays it is served everywhere in the island. It is usually cooked with potatoes and onions - so called pecora bollita - or it is cooked with tomatoes, rosemary, a bit of wine and many other species - pecora in umido. Both are considered as a second course.
The Sardinians love porcetto arrosto - a roasted suckling pig with mirto scent. They usually roast it at the open air and it lasts several hours as the fire is small and it has to be done very slowly. Also lamb makes part of the traditional menu. It is served for Christmas and Easter.
Cheese production of the highest quality, which is one of the main pilasters of the local economy, made Sardinia famous in Italian mainland as well as abroad. The most famous and delicious cheese is pecorino sardo (DOP since 1991). It is made from cheep milk. Seasoned cheese is a typical local delicacy - some kinds mellow from 6 months to 2 years and it is often used instead of parmigiano. Other kinds of cheese like caciotta, fiore sardo, calcagno, ricotta mustia or pecorino romano (DOP since 1955) are also made from sheep milk. Dolce sardo, peretta, provolone sardo are made from cow milk. Casu friscu, cagliu, ircano or biancospino are made from goat milk.
Even if fish and seafood do not belong to the typical Sardinian menu, still there are some localities that are famous for the delicious recepies. In Alghero on the west coast you find delicious lobsters à la catalana. In Oristano there are big ponds with sea-eels. The local fishermen fish them for caviar or bottarga (dry sea-eel eggs).
There are many different kinds of bread as well. Except of typical Italian panini there are some kinds of bread that are still made following the traditional recipes. Even nowadays, especially in the small villages in the hinterland, the ladies meet once a week and bake together bread for their families. However, you can find all of the traditional kinds of bread also in the supermarkets. It’s worth tasting pane carasau - very thin and dry bannock. When you break it, it bursts and that is the reason why it is called music paper. It remains fresh for a long time and you can eat it dry or with some drops of olive oil. In the past carasau bread was baked mainly for the shepherds that stayed with their herds far from home for long periods.
Every lunch or dinner finishes with a dessert. Just to name some of them: amaretti, papassini, bianchini. The most of the local cakes are made from almond pastry as almond trees grow everywhere. Some cakes have filling of saba - concentrated grape syrup from fresh sweet cider. The best known Sardinian dessert is seadas - a thin pastry with cheese filling and honey topping.
There is no region in Italy that would not produce excellent wines. Sardinia is not an exception. Wine production is a very old tradition. Red, white and rosè wines are produced and exported to Italy and the whole Europe. The preferred red wine is Cannonau di Sardegna, the white wine is Vermentino di Gallura (it won the gold medal in 2015 in an international wine festival in Pramaggiore).
There are some local liquors: limoncello and mirto (made from fruits or leaves of the bush mirto - mirtus comunis - that grows in the Mediterranean scrub) and Fillu e Ferru - spirit which is called iron wire by the local people. At the end of the 19th century very high taxes were introduced for home made spirit production so the people started to do it secretly. The bottles with spirit were hidden under the soil and the people used to sign the exact place with a piece of iron wire in order to find it quickly again. Finally there is also Sardinian beer - Ichnusa. It has been produced since 2012.