Sheep in Sardinia have a vast and rich literary history, and classical authors wrote numerous documents on the subject. Sardinians have many different names for sheep: arveghe, berbeche, birveghe, biveghe, berbeghe. These names seem distant from the Latin pecus ovillium, yet in fact have their origins in that language: vervex, vervecinus, verveceus, berbex. Given its significant economic importance in a sheep-farming society, it follows that the word is also precisely classified from a linguistic perspective. Sardinian farms reared numerous sheep to supply the Roman slaughterhouses. The people of Sardinia have coexisted with sheep since ancient times, considering it a sacred animal due to the precious resources it provided every day. Before domestication, it is believed that sheep were eaten by the earliest prehistoric hunters who cooked it in a sort of underground oven in a style known in Sardinian as “cotta a carrardzu”. It is still possible to sample this style of cooking if you happen to know an experienced shepherd, otherwise it is not recommended to attempt this Proto-Sardinian style. The process went as follows: a hole would be dug in the ground to house the animal. The animal would be washed well and placed on a bed of stones and branches and leaves of aromatic plants such as myrtle, laurel, lentisk, thyme, rosemary and wild olive. The sheep would be placed on top whole, eviscerated but still with the skin on. It would then be covered with more aromatic plants and a thin layer of earth. A large fire would be lit on top and fuelled for many hours. At the end the animal would be ready to eat.

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