Bottarga Festival 2019, Cabras is a strip of land between tradition and innovation

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The small Maya focuses on the fork, unnoticed soon passes to pinch a cluster of spaghetti between the forefinger and thumb, soiling her little muzzle. "We read about the festival on the internet. The atmosphere is magnificent, and the bottarga delicious. It really is the caviar of the Mediterranean" says his father Andrey, one of the many visitors who fill Piazza Sturzo in Cabras on the last Saturday of July. Around the benches where the Russian family gathered to eat the local specialties, it’s an incessant swarming around the stands offering wine, desserts, pasta, fish dishes and bottarga.

“Processing is essential to turn the mullet eggs into the final product. To start with salt must have the right granulation. Salting and drying should be as natural as possible. This regardless of the origin of the fish, whose quality is always verified, which can come from the Atlantic, from the Mediterranean, and of course from the lagoon" explains local producer Giovanni Spanu, intent on rearranging a table full of packs and jars in piazza Eleonora d’Arborea. "It often happens that tourists who met us here find us again in Turin or somewhere else for the food exhibitions. The festival has always been important from this point of view. From the beginning I was one of the promoters of the festival. For me it's the eighteenth edition".

"For our bottarga the period is about to arrive, the mullets will flow in the fish farm between late August and early September", explains Giuliano Cossu, president of the Cooperative Pontis Consortium, present at the festival with a large stand in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. On duty for the sale and preparation of the products representatives of all the consortium activities, fresh fish treaters, those who take shifts in the fish farm, those from the factory who process bottarga and smoked mullet fillets.

The tables of restaurants and pizzerias have occupied the streets of the center along with the craft exhibitions. The waiters come and go, crossing the flow of passers-by. “To the usual menu we added dishes for the occasion, such as pizzas and trofie with bottarga. We hope everything goes well, even with the anticipation of the festival from the end of August to the end of July”, explained during the afternoon preparation Mimmo Cammedda and Alberto Pinna, owners together with Valentina Sanna of the restaurant “ Vecchio Saloon”. 

In Piazza Azuni the main attraction is the exhibition "Weave and twine", organized by the associations "A sa Crabarissa" and "Imparaus po no iscaresci", convinced of the need to pass on the value of the ancient art of weaving reeds. Each room of the old Cabrarese house reproduces a moment of foregone everyday life, punctuated by the slow pace of work and accompanied by the creation and use of baskets and fishing pots. Together with the tourists, members of the two associations enter and leave, dressed according to tradition, the men in white linen trousers and shirt, the waistcoat, the skirt, the gaiters and the rough wool jacket. And the shoes, a symbol of celebration and class in the country of barefoot fishermen. Embroidery on women's shirts also changes depending on the occasion and social status. Sophistication flaunted only in part, covered and enhanced by the brocade bust and the triangle-shaped handkerchief that descends from the neck on the chest in two flaps. 

"The bottarga festival is an important event for Cabras, and it is part of a tourist route we are slowly trying to build. We are children of this territory, a strip of land between land and sea, each of us is permeated by the environmental element, by the cultures to which it gave rise, fishing and intertwining in particular", explains the mayor Andrea Abis, visiting the exhibition. "Today we face new challenges, environmental sustainability, the fisherman's ability to improve business and stay in the market. Facts that must push us to associate technological innovation and respect for the ecosystem. Fortunately, in our tradition this last element is already present. Fishing goes along nature through the ancient knowledge. Science must help us in bettering the tradition”.