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    "The fisherman's shelter": a truck-food facing the beauty of S'Ena Arrubia pond

    The tallest body of the Sassu drainage pump, with all its rationalist modernity, always looks like a submarine in the act of leaving the surface and sliding into the abyss. Only the pond of S’Ena Arrubia separates it from the open sea, a mirror of calm water along which a pine forest runs to the south, while the northern bank is covered by thick marshy vegetation. Here a dirt road winds its way up to the fishpond. The September sun already exalts the motionless figures of flamingos and herons, the dives of the red-crested pochard and the flight of the seagulls.

    Alberto and Massimiliano are in the "death chamber", the acute corner of the fishpond where the catch is imprisoned. The water covers part of their torso, protected by the rubber suit. Alberto holds the big net, while Massimiliano dips the tile, pulling up a tangle of dripping crabs in which a large mullet struggles. Massimiliano gives him a hand to return to freedom, then approaches Alberto and with surgical precision clamps the long claw and with a flick of the wrist transfers the first prisoner.

    "We are clearing the fishpond, otherwise tomorrow it will be impossible to fish mullet". In a few minutes, five nets are filled, a quintal of shells and claws that another fisherman will then hoist with a mechanical arm mounted on the parapet of the walkway. His hands move as if around a fire, "those claws are like blades". The Callinectes sapidus, or king crab, only arrived in the Gulf of Oristano a few years ago, probably thanks to a lift in the bilges of large ships, and it is now present in many shores of the Mediterranean. It is able to tolerate very low salinities and in S’Ena Arrubia, where three fresh water channels converge, "it has set up it’s own palce", says Alberto. “By now we have collected tons of it. We do not yet know how to quantify the damage, if we can call it a damage. It cannot catch mullets and other larger fish. But we found a lot of broken soles and mullets as well. We have decided to sell it, even if it is not part of our tradition. It comes to cost up to $ 150 per kilo in the United States. We give it for 10".

    While Alberto Porcu, young president of the Sant’Andrea fishermen's cooperative explains, a caravan of large motorcycles travels along the dirt road, raising a cloud of dust. A few minutes later it is the cyclists' turn, a long line that passes on the wooden bridge that separates the pond from the sea. The landscape is wild, magnificent. We seat at one of the tables that make up the floor of the new “restaurant” of the fish farm, the cooperative's truck-food: "It is part of the renewal process that we started last year. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed the delivery. It was scheduled for May, but the truck-food arrived in early August. We have lost almost the whole season, but the business at the end of August and September gives us a lot of confidence”.

    Two fridges, two freezers, two deep fryers to fry up squid, mullet meatballs and, on request, roast, which, waiting for the truck’s extension, is prepared on the grill in the keeper's house. Beer, soft drinks, a local Vermentino to drink. The truck’s manager is Amerigo, Alberto’s younger brother, who is in charge of the technical office. When the truck-food is operational, from 11.30 to 15 and from 19 to closure (often after midnight), at least two veterans of the cooperative are always present. In few days the mobile restaurant will move to Piazza Amsicora in Marrubiu, a nearby town from which all the fishermen come.

    “We made a bet, for the cooperative but also because we believe in the sustainable development of the tourist sector in the Arborense coast. The bureaucratic steps are long, but sooner or later we will be able to inaugurate a proper restaurant in the space that currently houses the office and the equipment", continues Alberto.

    "At the beginning, people struggled to find us, S’Ena Arrubia is a hidden paradise ... but when the news and the location got known, the customers flow became interesting" explains Amerigo, who studied cinema and Bologna and Los Angeles. The pandemic froze all funding for independent cinema, so Amerigo decided to go home and invest time in a very different

    challenge. "We have had many German customers, caravans of campers, English cyclists discovering the coasts of Sardinia. Many people from northern Italy too, especially from Veneto, a region linked to Arborea by the experience of reclamation. S’Ena Arrubia is a special place, and we want to make it even more beautiful. Morning or evening, here the view is unique”. The toponym comes from the red color that ignites the water of the pond (ena means "bight") at sunset.

    The cooperative, very active on social networks, owns now an internet domain and a logo (two red mullets jumping above a crab) which could soon become the label of the products developed in collaboration with the company "Blue Marlin” of Mogoro: bottarga, smoked fillets and mullet pate, crab meat and eels. While the Porcu brothers imagine the cooperative’s future, and that of the pond, a special guest arrives pulls over his car. A supporting and founding member, says Albero, cheerfully. It is Mr. Gemiliano Pusceddu, 90 years old, a former building contractor: "When I arrived here, in 1960, there was nothing, only very high vegetation. I made the dirt road that leads to the pond. I had to lift the earth a meter and a half. Nobody came, just someone to cut the reeds and rushes, for the local handicraft"

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