Tahiti

The Islands of Tahiti, South Pacific
by Cartography

TAHITI

The Air Tahiti Nui flight from Los Angeles arrived in Tahiti at night. On the bedside table next to the iPhone we found our first flower necklace and it was the scent of fresh tiare flowers, a good smell that suited both men and women, that we took to bed with us. The night sky in Tahiti was overcrowded with fairy tales and sea creatures, the long sky fish, te ikaroa o te rangi, which is what they called the Milky Way at times. The sky was a mirror of the sea with its many islands. A stingray slipped along the sandy seabed, its body velvety to the touch like the undulating cap of some enormous wild mushroom, a river eel wiggled through the roots of a forest of Tahitian chestnuts and ended up in the lagoon, a slow shark snaked between by my naked calves. “One thing is fundamental for me: I don’t want any of my journalists to have to write something they’re not interested in. Great writing comes from an obsession, not a mechanical obligation.

We’re a magazine of surprises, not constraints,” responded David Remnick, Pulitzer prize winner, director of The New Yorker for almost twenty years, in an interview for an Italian magazine that I’d brought with me on my flight. I was already in contact with various writers who were experts on the Pacific, some of whom had actually gone to live there, and after a few days in Tahiti I knew that Oceania could become an obsession for me too. Islands – that you expect –, valleys, steep peaks, austere caves, banks, distant skeins, flowers, rims, winds across the land, sweet men, strange cockerels, waves, punctual tides, sacred choruses, the hearts of a galaxy.

A starry compass can point you in the right direction. In Tahiti, at 17°S, the stars come up and go down at an angle of 17°, proceeding northwards. Every island in the South Seas has its zenith star: ‘A’a, the dog star, the brightest, is Tahiti’s. To get there, all you have to do is follow it. For the Polynesians, the sky is like an atlas of light that is perpetually open before their eyes. A map of stars. To read the ocean, you have to know as many stars as possible.

And you start to count the distance between two islands at night. That’s as if to say: Venice is one night and almost a day from Patras. And so, the scattering of their islands in the Pacific Ocean, the people’s inability to locate themselves in a land larger than an island, to see themselves as part of an archipelago, a nation, a continent, is cancelled out while contemplating their global map, in a sky of islands. It is no longer even an effort of the imagination, it is truly a vision.

In July, night falls at 6pm in Tahiti and the roulottes in Place Vaiete open their picnic tables and heat up woks and grills. Whoever starts first, fills up with customers first. That evening we were with Dimitri, a young freelance photographer born in Tahiti, waiting for our chow mein specials, when Dimitri suddenly spurted it out, with the excitement of a boy who has to convince his parents to allow him to leave on a madcap journey that would take him far from home for a long time.

And he did so with a premeditation that I saw had held his mind captive for several minutes, when he hadn’t been following our conversation, but was concentrating on how he would put what he was about to say. “Do you know what you have? You can get into the car and just drive and drive, cross Switzerland, then Germany, arrive as far as Denmark, change jumper, people, see what they put on your plate change. Here, to do something like that, I have to buy myself a boat and take sailing lessons. And then, for a long time I’ll be in the same place and they’ll give me raw fish with coconut milk and noodles to eat.”

“When you go, you don’t come back, when you’re born you can’t go away anymore. Sea prison and marine highway. Besides, is it not precisely the sea that makes an island a body unto itself?” [1]. He’d taken me back to the exact lines of the Sardinian Marcello Fois, which I’d underlined in pencil. He’d cried out to me that I’d never really understand what it means to be born on an island in a sea of many islands.

In Tahiti, the south wind is called that because it blows towards the south, and the north wind blows north. In Europe we say exactly the opposite, that is, where the wind comes from. The south wind comes from the south. It’s something which explains one of the many misunderstandings and one huge error in the maps made following the first Western explorers. The more I read, the more I learnt that the Polynesian people look where things go, in the intention of seizing a possible direction, which is a whole way of living, a way of matching one movement with another, of leaving.
[1] Extract from In Sardegna non c’è il mare by Marcello Fois. Edizioni Laterza, 2013.

Pantelleria

Pantelleria with Giorgio Armani
Text by Gianluigi Ricuperati
Photographs by Luca De Santis

PANTELLERIA

The natural range of colours and tones of the vegetation make this garden a miniature of everything that a Volcano can do to reach up to the sky without exploding. Melancholy and tender, the now extinct volcanoes have replaced pinnacles of smoke with the stalks of sculpted flowers, the grace of palm trees, the strangled green strength of succulents, certain pale little roses that don’t seem to fear the sun’s force. Everything resounds sweetly and neatly, but in reality it’s a suffocated and beautiful cry, which leads every atom of the earth towards the valley of stars.

Cala Gadir: At the beginning of July 2017, I was so lucky as to spend a few days at the splendid Cala Gadir, Giorgio Armani’s property on Pantelleria. Thinking back over those motionless hours, distracted by the wind and the extreme beauty of the place and the house, outside and in, I felt that my words were not enough. So, I’ve woven my words with those of one of my literary heroes, American writer Harold Brodkey, master of prose and the poetic and verbal representation of what it means “to be alive”, to be in the world. The two voices are put together to form a collage of tributes and sensations and therefore complete the text. Because while I was at Cala Gadir I was reading The Runaway Soul, his lifelong opus: I hadn’t picked it up for 20 years, since I was 19 and I had read it out loud in my room to improve my English, as my mother listened in, perhaps feeling a touch of pride, from behind the door. It’s 20 years now since my mother died. I’m always on the move, and every place I go, I take the genetic stamp of her gaze with me. She’s the one who made my way of looking at things. Children carry the shadow of their mothers’ design, to then perhaps pass it on to their children in turn. My parts are in Roman type, Brodkey’s in italics.

Cala Gadir: a place where the answer to any question is “paradise”.

And the freshness of the air, the near-silence, [...]
the great inner hounds are baying with moodedness. All sorts of inner selfhoods are clutching at stillness.

Cala Gadir: everyone stand, because here the Mediterranean is a sudden pause, a dancer who has just expressed herself with a complicated series of steps, as if to say: I’ve spent my life challenging the wind: I’ve spent a lifetime following the wind of details.

Then, all at once, the stuff is just light and shadow. [...] I haven’t a life-and-death say with myself, my selves, time-and-mind, time-and-flesh, whatever it is that I am.

Cala Gadir: the sun goes down, after reaching its nadir: but you can’t see it, not from here: it’s a collections of dawns, not sunsets. Dawn requires effort and discipline, or an extreme passion for the night. Like the photographer desperately seeking the light that he once saw but hasn’t come across again, this house asks a lot,
and gives back twice as much.

Near the river some of the land was really flat, and the plowed and planted fields were darkish in color, a real brown, and the stuff coming up was really green, or strongly yellowish-green, planted so geometrically that the planting looked like notation of some kind, an idea spelled out stalk by stalk, row after row; that tickled the eye and the mind.

Thinking is a shadow fruit, shadows and weirdness in an electric orchard, blossoming with mirage after mirage, crumbingly real, then shadow paintings, mock photographs in black-and-white, then a mere sickly sense, an exposed underpainting, the overlay lost.

Cala Gadir: a mother, a sister, a friend of black stone and cool homes. Its female substance allows itself to be accompanied by furniture that seems to move in slow motion, every effort becoming a slow maternal caress: the curtains that separate the patio from the outdoors, the elegant and welcoming sofas, the colonial atmosphere given by certain woods and matt whites: it embraces all, like a boy’s night-time conversation with the women in his family, a tale of fears hopes fantasies symmetries aspirations jokes games. And silences. Because Cala Gadir is a theatre of gifted silence, like the understanding of a love that lets you in.

Light and clouds and the shadows on the water, the birds overhead, their cries and skimming reflections, the boy, the reeds, the shore, the truth, the error—all of it exists here in the many-winged flutter and mutter in the moment.

Cala Gadir is above all Pantelleria, because Cala Gadir wouldn’t exist without Pantelleria: a name whose “panta” includes the whole classification of every living thing. It seems that at Pantelleria, as happens with islands fit for a king, Nature has called together all, or nearly all, of its disguises: the dry heat, the green shade, the black desert, the luxuriant life of flowers, the productive life of the vines that go right up to the shoreline and give man the sombre cheer of sweet passito wine. Pantelleria is a natural oven in the heart of Winter. Pantelleria is a simple harbour in the heart of Europe. Pantelleria is a landing project for military planes and other weird ideas. Pantelleria is a chorus of capers and trees. Pantelleria is the sentence: Cala Gadir is a word. Pantelleria is fixed: Cala Gadir flies.

It moves motionlessly into unexistencehood in actual moments where I am still, like a phonograph needle, noticing the deviations that become the course of argument of the thoughtlight in my mind. It becomes memory—usefulness—a flag, a cloudy thought.

That’s it. The only thing I can’t swallow, here, in the perfection of the Mediterranean, is the idea of a cloudy thought. It doesn’t rain in Pantelleria’s imagination. It doesn’t rain in Cala Gadir’s imagination. There are shadows, of course there are: but they’re hard, powerful, sharp, no longer raw diamonds of summer light. Nothing is grey. This Paradise is a wave of warm colours hosted by the most elegant king of black and white. Cala Gadir is a chess game between the brightness of the cosmos and its beautiful brutality.

peruvian-amazon

Peruvian Amazon by Cartography
Text by Paola Corini
Photographs by Luca De Santis

PERUVIAN
AMAZON

Walking Fish.
It flowed down from the Peruvian highlands, for one thousand miles, around one thousand six hundred kilometres, as far as the Amazonian plains. In correspondence to Nauta City was the point where it began to be called, quite simply, the River Amazon. There it met the Rio Marañon, another river coming from the mountains and ice, and, together, they continued to flow for another four thousand kilometres, at a rate of two hundred thousand cubic metres of fresh water emptied out into the Atlantic a second. The Rio Ucayali was a natural river, without any barriers, channels, dams or artificialities, without any human impact. A good-fortune fluid, I wanted to say, since I was interested in curanderos and medicine.

A week earlier my low-cost flight had left me at dawn at Iquitos, scarcely three hours from Lima. I hadn’t seen anything in Iquitos, like the Belen market, which he wanted to have me believe was a fetid and stinking place, an abandoned hulk of fish and rotten trunks, run-down huts, now that it was dry season in the city. He wanted to convince me that, once in the reserve, I wouldn’t miss Iquitos, just like you don’t miss the chaos of Rome in the yellow pastures of Campo Imperatore [1]. Yet I was sure that I would have found all the inebriating plants, all the flora of Upper Amazonia that I needed for my research in Belen. And in the city in the evening I would have drunk a cool beer in some touristy veranda on the river with some local used to asking strangers questions and suggesting going to ask a shaman to prepare us some ayahuasca the morning after.

Instead he had driven for one hundred kilometres, in the direction of Nauta, and hadn’t let me see the river yet. In Nauta, to silence all of my questions about Belen, he’d taken my hand and asked me to follow him to the morning market. We sneaked through the calm crowd in single file, like children between the tall stalks of maize in August. With a handful of dollars, the river people ate the best Amazonian breakfast before school or work, a patarashca cooked on a live coal flame and a fermented drink of jungle cassava.
The air smelt sweetly of wild coriander, onion, Peruvian lemon and ají charapita. There was nothing dangerous in that place, except that aphrodisiacal scent of fresh herbs. A gift from the plants’ spirits. It seemed to me that all the local young women were trying to seduce me. I felt the rhythm of the blades of oversized knives tapping my temples as they deftly sliced into the skin of freshwater fish and broke their little bones. The women responded to my guide’s greetings and flattery in that Spanish that smoothed their coarse beauty. They didn’t lift their idle eyes from the counter. They knew they were teasing, I would have liked them to look at me. The village music was an exotic carillon to my ears, Italian panettoni with the names of unknown saints were piled up out of season in the large drug stores, at the embarcadero trailers were hurriedly unloading heavy sacks of Andean potatoes and cereals, before diving back into the flow. It was then that I noticed the Coca-Cola-coloured river, grandiose, swift, shining, peaceful. It was eleven o’clock in the morning in north-west Peru and it was starting to get really hot.

I was by myself in the village’s large straw maloca, emptied even of children – where was everyone? – when a gentle breeze, such that seemed impossible in the Amazon, woke me and I realized that I had been asleep. That book was robbing me of my dreams. We had recommenced our slow sailing upstream, following the bank of a river that was as tall and crumbly as a pale Sachertorte. Marañon and Ucayali could not be more different, just as brothers all too often are. They explained to me that technically the Ucayali was the River Amazon, due to its density, temperature and the way its waters flowed. I loved it right from the start, with its sweetness and supreme character. Instead, the Marañon seemed a stagnant soul, with an excess of mystery, suited to beings of a gloomier nature.

We paid for our friendship with a bottle of Coke, fresh from the fridge. He leaned out of his sleek canoe and grabbed it with his good hand: the other had a large cut in the thumb that had just healed, a piranha bite. We met him at the point where the water really could be called black, deep inside the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. He’s Alex’s grandfather, my guide told me, not so much because he wanted me to know, but instinctively, like when you recognize a friend from far off. We had left Alex this morning at the village school, at break time.

He was the leader of his little group of friends. They’ll have been eight years old or so. Somehow Alex had let us understand that to ask for a photo of one of the others we had to have the OK from him. Alex, a name that has been used for centuries, meaning “defender of his men”. In the end what he wanted was to pose for us too, on the school’s wooden balcony. We left Alex’s grandfather there, calm in his wooden motor boat, coming back from his fish, as he must have done every day of his life for the past eighty years.

We spent seven days and seven nights on the river. If we’d stayed a couple of years, we’d have seen Alex grow up, his grandfather letting him taste his first ayahuasca as soon as he turned ten, and the village shaman seeing that the boy had a strong temperament, that he was capable of administering the medicine’s dreams. Then Alex would have visited the city, left the village soon after, and turned his back on his chance to become the next shaman.
.... (continue on Cartography Magazine N.2)

Northern-cyclades

Northern Cyclades by Cartography
Text by Paola Corini
Photographs by Luca De Santis

NORTHERN
CYCLADES

Holidaying in the northern islands of the Cyclades. Athens, Andros, Tinos, then Mykonos (but we’ll stay in Tinos), and back again. A delicate and faded summer. Rings on basketball courts, deserted by night and day, like souvenirs; old parked scooters; artichokes and caper flowers; small sweet grapes, golden like grain; the Orthodox monastery of Saint Nicholas. A lesser, rural Greece. Alternative, because it is profoundly classical.

Aegean Sea
For my birthday, in October 2013, I was given a book. I had just made a career change into travel publishing and had decided that my speciality would be exploring. The present was a translation of a German book, Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will. An azure, non-plastic coated cover, with a black canvas binding and tangerine orange page edges, depicting three small mountainous, nameless islands. In October 2015 I looked out that book, opened it, and thought that two dots in the Mediterranean were missing, one for Andros and one for Tinos. Two dots that I would add, counter to all the sense contained in that book. And I’d be proud to be able to say that yes, you can get to these islands, I reached them quite easily even. Just a day-long crossing from Athens and the obsessive thought that, in the same time, by plane, I could have landed in Los Angeles or Cape Town, places I miss still.

That summer just behind us, I would learn that on Andros and Tinos the days pass by in a simple fashion. Living on those smaller islands was like diving into the best of the 1960s, a time I hadn’t experienced first-hand, with the faded rainbow sunshades, one-piece costumes and knee-length shorts, straw mats on the sand, sweet currant tarts or savoury goat’s cheese flans cooling down in the eleven o’clock sun, the village people. And what in my Italy mightn’t exist anymore, or maybe I just don’t look for it, does instead exist in at least two islands of the southern Aegean, oblivious to low-cost airlines and modern tourism. Not ashamed of showing their true nature, the islanders’ hands dyed the red of ripe strawberries and green of tomato fields, rustic, rural and seafaring all at the same time, small lands completely surrounded by water, with marvellous little people. That summer I fell in love with Greece and all that is still honest and kind.

One: Tinos
I only went into town – the Hora Tinos of the coachloads of miracle seekers – for the shop. On the right-hand side of the street going up the hill straight as a ruler, with the faithful on their knees making their vows at one end and the monastery at the other, that shop, a Greek bakers, realm of the sweet, homemade breakfast, seemed real. The type you couldn’t find in the small villages in the hinterland, but tiny and genuine just like them. I had decided that I’d go back every day, like a regular, abandoning my car for a couple of minutes, purse in hand, quick, cheeky, like a young local. I was by no means the baker’s best customer and although when I went – seven o’clock on a September evening, just as the sun was going down – we were the only ones in the shop, he demonstrated a good-natured annoyance over my presence, my smile, my compliments in a foreign language for each delicious mouthful I tried. From the street, through the square window, you could hardly see him, sitting on a chair that was too low, on the other side of the counter with the loose, sweet bread. He only got up when I had decided, which always seemed too late for him. Mounds of crumbly cardamom twists, pan brioche with the almost alcoholic scent of raisins, simple sponge cakes, brown wholewheat buns. My quantities were birdlike, my money never precise. And he huffed and puffed, but in a way that made me want to go back and make him understand that I only bought my supplies from him.

Manos had taken a few days to approach us. We were neighbours, our houses’ smooth stone walls were on the outside edge of the village of Loutra, a village with no foreigners, no taverna, only houses, scooters, the Ursuline nuns’ convent, the Museum of Folk Art, closed this year, perhaps for good. And then there was Manos. We would stand talking in the courtyard of our houses, us under our little olive tree and him on the other side of the stone wall, in front of his little gate. Every day he brought us something, like a shy suitor. Making friends at the village limits. And so we always had something at breakfast, to accompany the sweet buns from our moody baker: a handful of ripe strawberries, an empty white margarine tub filled with plump green baby tomatoes still on their stalks, a giant cucumber from the vegetable patch. The strawberries were pristine, the tomatoes shone like mirrors, cool from the running water, Manos’s hands dyed the purple of strawberry juice or the silky green of the tomato field.
Food was not in short supply. Every day in the villages above Hora Tinos we found hands repeating classic seasonal recipes.

And yet the fresh artichoke flan, crispy triangles of home-made filo pastry with fresh feta, courgette and wild fennel fritters, stuffed tomatoes, pickled artichokes and fresh capers never tasted the same twice. Everything grew on the island and every day we liked it in a new way. “Say that you live next door to Manos and Marieta. Maria is a friend of ours and her cooking really is something special: all those hot and cold nibbles pouring out one after another are fantastic.” Maria ran the bar on stilts on Kolimpithra beach. The surfers’ second favourite, it’s a small sheltered bay with couples of pensioners in oversized costumes floating in the salty water for hours as if they were in a spa, on a Sunday as they probably did every day at the end of September.

We stayed in every little village on the hill. Loutra, Ktikados, Stene and Agapi. As soon as we disembarked, we quickly left the port behind us and gained altitude. “Forget about the port and the town straight away, the island’s up there and it’s fantastic,” Nelly had told us. She and her architect husband lived in Athens and they’d been here a few times, by the short ferry crossing from Andros. Tinos is not the island where all the mainland Greeks have been, while Andros is a hop, skip and a jump from Rafina, and Mykonos, well, it’s Mykonos. Of them, Tinos is the small, unusual, silent, mystical one, the one you gently get to know. At night dark streets are illuminated by the electric blue of the crosses on the Orthodox chapels...
(Continue on Cartography Magazine N.2)

Itinerario Northern Cyclades

Destination Northern Cyclades
Itineraries by Cartography

Northern Cyclades

DAY 1-4 ATHENS TO ANDROS
Fly to Athens International Airport (ATH). Rent your 4x4 car and drive to Rafina port (30 min). Take your ferry from Rafina to Gavrio, Andros (2 hrs). Drive to Ahla Beach (1 hr). Eat and sleep at ONAR ANDROS (2 nights).
Morning visit to the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas). Enjoy Vori Beach and Plaka Beach. Sunset walk in Andros Chora Village (Andros Town). Dine at Endochora restaurant. Sleep at KTIMA LEMONIES (1 night).

DAY 4-7 ANDROS TO TINOS
Take your ferry from Andros to Tinos (1.30 hr). Drive to Loutra Village. Visit Agios Fokas, Ap’gania, Kolybethra, Pachia Ammos (beaches). Visit Loutra, Agapi, Ktikados, Volax, Kardiani, Isternia (villages). Eat at Drosia, Ktikados village
and To Thalassaki, Ormos Isternion. Sleep at TINOS HOUSE, Loutra (3 nights).

DAY 7-8 TINOS TO ATHENS
Take your ferry from Tinos to Athens (4 hrs). Morning visit to Athens Central Market (Varvakios Agora, 7am-3pm Mondays-Saturdays). Eat at Avocado Food for Life, Syntagma (vegetarian) and Melilotos, Monastiraki (Greek). Visit The Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum. Sleep at ALICE INN (1 night).

Roberto Petza

Text by Carlo Spinelli
Photographs by Luca De Santis
Set Design by Kyre Chenven

With chef
Roberto Petza

It could all start from the magic, from the rite of scented water which chef Roberto Petza still remembers from his childhood. In an ancient land where the heat burns barrenly and in the meantime mixes with the tombs of giants and the Mamuthones masks of Sardinia’s remote sheep farming culture, once upon a time housewives used to collect flowers and herbs in the countryside to scent the water while they recited their prayers. This liquid was then left to marinate overnight and the day after was used to wash away impurities and the evil eye from all the family. Then, with the same herbs, they prepared soups and salads, in a sort of virtuous circle. This story is just a tiny piece in the great game of Sardinia. Other enchantments are yet to come.

Like the magic of opening a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in the Cagliari hinterland, in Siddi, and suddenly discovering that you’re one of the most fascinating chefs in the world. With his S’Apposentu, Roberto Petza embodies the island past and present. He has the age-old legends of Sardinian culture in his blood, but also the desire to transform them into contemporary cooking. “When I was little, my dream was to carry on my grandfather’s trade, joinery, but my parents thought that the work was too hard and strenuous. So, unbeknownst to my mother, at the age of 14 I enrolled in catering school. After tasting the world, halfway around Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, in my thirtieth year I decided that the time had come to return home, and carry on my revolution in Sardinian cooking!” The various stages in his career are known from the biographies in the Michelin guides: in 1998 he opened S’Apposentu in San Gavino Monreale, his home town; in 2002 he then opened in Cagliari; and finally, for a fresh start, in 2010 he moved to the historical region of Marmilla, to start on that path that brought him to Siddi and his sophisticated take on Sardinian cooking.

At the moment, Petza seems to be the only cook who really wants to throw open Sardinia’s golden treasure chest, and make it explode. It’s a strong metaphor: him digging with his bare hands in earth full of worms and flowers, dry soil and animals’ sweat, to uncover its treasures. His cuisine takes shape from the sublimation of culture. Petza is a distiller who obtains the pure essence of Sardinian cuisine, the best, but only after sweating blood as he explores and studies it, sifts through it and safeguards it in a still. As Sardinian scholar Roberto Flore – who has worked for years at chef René Redzepi’s Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen – recounts, “this land has all the elements to try out new things, while recalling its magical traditions”.
There are no end of examples for those who dare: casu marzu or casu fràzigu (literally, rotten cheese) is sheep’s cheese containing cheese fly larvae to boost its brave consumer’s protein levels; suckling goat rennet cazu de crabittu is of Neolithic origin and has been part of Sardinian cuisine for over 700 years; the shepherds of Barbagia’s highly characteristic fiore sardo cheese at times displays a most anti-modern, brutal smell and taste, especially when very mature; then there are the sheep’s guts and blood used in archaic rites, always cleaned and boiled. Instead, for lovers of the vampire genre, a delicacy is the sheep’s blood sausage, sambeneddu, from the island’s interior: the blood is cooked inside the sheep’s stomach, adding salt, thyme or other aromatic herbs, onions and the unleavened bread, pane carasau (historically recalling the crumbs of harasau bread stored in the semi-nomadic shepherds’ sacks); then it is made to boil again and cooked in a pan with pennyroyal mint. Finally, it is left to dry out and mature to become a salami.
While casu marzu and cazu de crabittu are regenerating and reinvigorating aphrodisiacs, in the past Vernaccia wine and drunkenness were prompted divinatory acts, sacrifices and merry feasts to shoo away evil spells or to win over demons. In Cabras, palaeobotanists recently discovered vine seeds from 3,000 years ago, in wells dug out of the rocks by the inhabitants of the time to store food. In these “early refrigerators” they also found walnuts, hazelnuts, fig seeds, pine nut cones, pulses, venison…

Sardinian cooking is therefore extreme adaptation to the land, something which Roberto Petza was born into. For years he has wallowed in this age-old fermentation of dairy products, the lengthy, underground cooking times of suckling pig or porceddu, and the primordial simplicity of fregola (semolina, water and nothing else) in broth, a dish that has now disappeared from grandmothers’ kitchens. These wonders are taken up again on the menu at S’Apposentu and adapted to the present day, in terms of tastes and cooking techniques, like the first farriers did with iron as soon as the Bronze Age was over. Take, for example, the homemade saffron ice-cream, which the chef uses to create a dessert using the few sweet elements of the Sardinian tradition: saffron, the ricotta of baked formaggelle and the gattò or almond brittle.
How many cries of envy can you hear from other parts of the earth where you can count their precious ingredients on the fingers of a single hand? Petza answers proudly: “In some work a few years ago by University of Cagliari researchers it emerged that in a municipality in Goceano there were no less than 57 types of plants used for culinary purposes. There are lots of examples and of course we can’t forget s’erbuzzu in Gavoi, a soup that uses twenty types of wild herbs picked in spring by the women in the region of Gennargentu”.
It is not just its products, but also Sardinia’s stories and storytelling, trademarks of the archaic taste for marketing peasant folklore, as well as wild mixed leaf salad and food to chew on from Michelin-starred menus. It is the mystical, religious and ceremonious aspect that also arouses curiosity in the ancestral relationship between cooking/food and religion. Again the chef from Siddi tells us where to find the most energetic and mysterious places close to his restaurant: “On the Giara di Siddi there is a giant’s tomb from the sixteenth century B.C., while in Baradili there’s the fountain of Santa Margherita, dug out of the rock in the nuragic period; and finally there’s the Sa Fogaia park in Siddi, a wood at the foot of a nuragic palace where until a couple of years ago I used to organize dinners with friends from all over the world.”
From here, it’s an almost natural step to pass to supernatural forces: the land of Sardinia is full of them. Religious traditions mix with pagan beliefs, joined by the common thread of the word “food”, giving rise to rites that have remained untouched in time: the bonfires of de piricoccu, known as the herb of Saint John, picked in the moonlight and kept for a year to chase away envy from the door and then feed the purifying fire. It’s an example originating from the ancient custom of using toxic plants to hunt: euphorbia (lua) was used to kill eels and fish, giving rise to the exclamation parece alluao!, “you look poisoned” or in a state of confusion. Or the appearance of su nenniri, the grain germinated in the dark by the women during Holy Week and then thrown off cliffs, a practice connected to the mysterious pagan cults of the Greek god Adonis. And then, going on and on, fires and masks, the continual embrace of pagan and Christian culture, divination of the Sun god and the cult of water, sacred resources in every remote corner of the Mediterranean maquis.
Shout “Sardinia” and an ancestral cuisine quietly emerges, made of centuries-old rites and beliefs, which we almost risked losing in recent decades under the influence of globalization, the rejection of our origins and the desire to keep up with the times, while mystifying the past. Roberto Petza continues in his search to discover and glorify those products that are part of the centenarian islanders’ diets, abounding in pulses, wild herbs and unusual meats such as mutton, a heritage that unfortunately is relived on few occasions. His is a cultural investment to make it understood that industry is not the way to go in Sardinia, and that what’s needed is investment in farming and food.
Besides, the very existence of a story such as that of the demon Ammutadori is telling in itself. Striking when its prey is asleep, it causes a sensation of anguish, suffocation and oppression. Once, because of this demon, Sardinian shepherds were afraid of nodding off, in the shade of a tree perhaps, for fear that the demon would attack them, and maybe strangle them while they were asleep. It was thought that this phenomenon took place in the moment between wakefulness and sleep, or vice versa. In this particular phase, the body is asleep but the mind still conscious. And so Roberto Petza no longer sleeps: he cooks the demons of the past and transforms them into the food of the future.

Tahiti-The Temple of Paofai

The Temple of Paofai in Tahiti
by Cartography

TAHITI

The Temple of Paofai in Tahiti is the heart of the Ma’ohi protestant church. It was built in 1981 on the site of the first small chapel made of bamboo and woven leaves, constructed in 1818. The Sunday 10 o’clock service is well attended by the community. In their best Sunday dress, their heads covered by large hats woven from plant fibres, the faithful leave their pick-ups parked in triple file in the small street alongside the pastel pink church and take part in the sermon, singing the long hymns (himene) at the tops of their voices. 45% of Tahiti’s population is Protestant, 34% Catholic, with 6% members of the Mormon church and other minor connected cults.