by Mario Batali
The remote and fantastic city of Nuoro, nestled at the base of Ortobene Mountain in the heart of the Supramonte Range, represents an ancient culture of traditional customs and style that will boggle your mind with exotic color and ancient ways. The landscape itself is a wild and mountainous labyrinth of shepherds trails from another century, the roads off of the main routes hardly roads at all. The mountainsides are dotted with small towns still teeming with citizens dressed in the traditional colorful garb of the 19th century. This is a place where history and the 21st century mingle in an odd dance more resembling a film set then modern times.
1926 Literary Nobel Prize winner Grazie Deledda wrote in reverent tones of the magnificent mountains and forests and the fabulous and often tragic rich emotional landscape of the folk culture and the deep mystery that surrounds the island and its people considered foreign and exotic even by Italians on the mainland. The food is equally mysterious in this antique mountain town: not even vaguely attached to the sea, the shepherds gastronomy has always been one of mountain foraging and the rich culture of nose to tail meat cookery. Look for the traditional shepherds traveling bread “pane carasau” as well as the infinite pecorino variations. Keep an eye out for the sagre of the carraxiu, a kind of a luau with buried lamb, calf or pig cooked under a bed of fragrant myrtle in spring and fall. The myriad options of delicious offal are a big part of this mountainous cooking region and restaurants are good if inconsistent. Better to ask in town if any special events are going on, thats where the locals will be eating.