Sarde in Saor, five curiosities about the Venetian dish par excellence

A poor man’s dish that has become the emblem of local cuisine.

Perfect for an aperitif or a snack, the Sarde in Saor is a must in order to savor the authentic Venetian lagoon atmosphere. The protagonist of this recipe is undoubtedly the sweet and sour sauce made with onion, spices and vinegar with which the sardines are soaked. Poor ingredients that mix Eastern and Western traditions in a perfect balance between the two worlds, embodying the spirit of Venice as a Maritime Republic.

Sarde in Saor is much more than a dish, rather a true fragment of history that has spanned the centuries, up to us. Here are five curiosities that you may not have known.

The recipe of Sarde in Saor originates in 1300
This dish dates back to the fourteenth century and was born from the need of Venetian sailors to preserve fish during long sea crossings. In the absence of refrigeration, onions and vinegar allowed it to be kept edible for several days.

Sarde in Saor, a tradition for the feast of the Redentore
The recipe is inextricably linked to an occasion that for Venetians is as important as the Carnival. The Festa del Redentore celebrates the end of the terrible plague epidemic that struck the city between 1575-1577. It was Doge Sebastiano Venier who asked for this grace, in exchange for the construction of a Basilica dedicated to Christ the Redeemer. Since then, every year in July, the liberation from the disease is celebrated with a long votive procession to the place of worship, as well as celebrating with events, music and delicacies – among these the traditional Sarde in Saor.

The spices of Sarde in Saor talk of Venice’s commercial tradition
This recipe is also a testimony of the strong bond that the Serenissima had woven with the most distant cultures. The spices and sweet components used for the Saor are in fact of clear oriental tradition: honey, almonds, cloves, cinnamon and coriander.

Sarde in Saor are better the next day
In fact, they are kept in the fridge and the recommendation is to taste them the day after preparation to give time to the Saor to flavor them well and give them the typical sweet and sour taste.

The recipe of Sarde in Saor is the protagonist of a Goldonian comedy
Carlo Goldoni, writer and playwright, writes about it in Venetian dialect in the two-part opera “Le donne de casa soa”, set in a campiello – a sort of neighborhood in the tradition of Venice. The recipe described by the author in the eighteenth century is already similar to that of today, with the addition of pine nuts and raisins.


Taste more
Share your experience