At the end of May, as shoals of mighty bluefin tuna sweep past the Isola di San Pietro off the south-west coast of Sardinia, fisherman are waiting, ready to haul the animals out of the deep as the Phoenicians did 3,000 years ago.
Back on dry land in Carloforte, the island's only town, locals celebrate the sea's largesse and the history of the tuna hunt – la mattanza -- with the international Girotonno cooking fest. This year top chefs from Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Japan and the US faced off in the annual knock-out competition in the Girotonno. Fusion seemed to be the theme. Fusing cuisines' can be a great idea. The Phoenicians contributed to the process when they interacted with the late Bronze age inhabitants they encountered in this part of the Mediterranean.
However, the dish in the Girotonno competition that took this process to unfortunate extremes was the Japanese entry from Harou Ichikawa: a fresh tuna burger in a sesame bun with mayonnaise, a thick slice of buffalo mozzarella, pancetta and ginger. Instead, recalling the old axiom 'less is more', the Italian chef Roberto Serra produced an elegant and interesting dish with raw tuna to win hearts and stomachs – and do justice to a part of Italy with a wonderful seafood tradition.