The name of this delicious speciality, that comes from the Ogliastra and Barbagia regions of central Sardinia, is rather unusual. As is mooted in a number of ancient Sardinian manuscripts, the term could be derived from a Byzantine word that might have referred to a round loaf or to a bird – perhaps a thrush – but nobody really knows.
Whatever the etymology, it is certain that the knowing women of the Sardinian interior have, for centuries, passed down the art of making culurgionisfrom generation to generation. So what exactly is culurgionis? Well, it’s a sort of pasta-package filled with potatoes, pecorino cheese, casu ‘e fitta (another special Sardinian cheese), mint and a pinch of pepper. The trick is knowing how to ‘close it’ – it takes a lot of practice to be able to create the typical spiky decoration, achieved by pinching the edges of the pasta together in a precise, symmetrical pattern around the soft filling.
The result is an incomparable culinary masterpiece in the shape of a teardrop, to be eaten as it is with a sprinkling of flour, with tomato sauce, with butter and sage, grilled or fried.
A great place to discover more about this cornerstone of Sardinian cuisine is the festival dedicated to it, held on the first sunday of August in Sadali, a small town in Barbagia di Seulo famous for its unique landscape bursting with beautiful waterfalls, forests and caves.
The festival, founded as a village celebration to thank nature for the harvest, is today a popular event among tourists, where they can discover more about Sardinian culture and see folk groups, traditional dances and Sardinian music.
The Culurgionis, when finished, are laid in large straw baskets and gifted as a sign of lasting friendship.