Food & cuisine from the Balearic Islands
Floating between Spain and the North African coast, the four main islands, Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, have all maintained their individuality and history, especially when it comes to cuisine.
Traditional industries such as farming and maritime have helped to create a rich and diverse gastronomy that includes coral birds, the Balearic pig, olive oil, almonds, and cheese.
The gastronomy is comprised of many delectable and pleasurable dishes with the cuisine taking full advantage of the islands' resources and many ruling cultures including the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, French and English, which have passed through over the years and left an indellible mark on the taste buds.
The Balearics most famous food product is not actually of Spanish origin. The dressing known as mayonnaise (mahonesa) was invented here. Under French rule, the general was so unimpressed with local cuisine he ordered a sauce to be made from the only ingredients to hand which was oil and eggs. The result was a salsa mahonesa (Mahon sauce), which we now know as mayonnaise.
The Balearic Islands in February enjoys the incredible beauty of the almond blossom, which is an essential ingredient in traditional cooking from the islands. One type known as 'ramallet' are braided together into bundles and hung up to dry in the open air. When combined with other ingredients they make very tasty starters, breakfasts or suppers.
Two seafood products that differentiate the Balearic Islands from the rest of the Mediterranean are the Mallorquin shrimp and the Menorquin lobster. Although it has to be said that nowadays both have been overfished and very little is actually caught in these waters. Now, if you visit Menorca you are more likely to be eating fish that has arrived from Galicia.
Generally speaking though, in Menorca you will probably still be experiencing fish and seafood at its best. We lived in Menorca for 2 years in the city of Ciutadella. If you get a chance to go I thoroughly reccommend the restaurant in the port called Cafe Balear. The ambience and the food is really excellent and the staff are very friendly. The ambience is also great. Famous people including Paul McCartney have been seen in this small but popular restaurant.
Other famous foods from Menorca
Caldereta de Langosta, seafood with peppers and herb-flavored liqueur, or Arroz con Langosta (Left).
A true Menorcan gastronomic delight is the spiny lobster stew or the Perdiz Menorquina - partridge prepared in the island's typical style.
'Queso de Mahon' is a cheese exported from the port of Mahon. It sticks out on cheese counters because of its heavy yellow wax seal.
This cheese also has quite a strong and pungent taste.
Mallorca offers a variety of clear soups with noodles, fish or meat, and vegetable sauces, including the dish 'Tumbet', made from sliced potatoes and eggplants covered with tomato sauce and peppers.
Seafood lovers shouldn't miss the 'Cigala Mallorquina'- a species of prawn that only exists here.
Rostit - a pork dish prepared in the oven with liver, eggs, bread and apples. Then there is Pollo relleno de Granada - chicken stuffed with pomegranates, or Pechuga de Pavo con Salsa de Almendras - turkey in almond sauce and Pichones en Salsa de Castanas - pigeon in chestnut sauce.
The islands also offer excellent sausages; especially the typical and well-known 'sobresada' or the blood sausage (named after the protected area Sobrassada in Majorca). There are also the mouth watering grilled sausages 'Butifarra.
Those with a sweet tooth will be spoilt for choice with temptations such as baked cottage cheese and special favourite 'coca de albaricoques' (apricot cakes).
Or the very traditional 'ensaimadas', spiral shaped pastries which are officially named Ensaïmadas de Mallorca and are famous world-wide. Or the small sponge cakes called 'quartos', 'rubiol', 'crespell', 'flao' and 'gato de almendra'.