Nduja. | Andrew Valente

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There was once a Kingdom of Mallorca and it spread far and wide — and right into parts of Italy, including two other islands: Sardinia and Sicily. And on both of these islands you will find today all kinds of things very Mallorcan.

In some parts of northern Sardinia the people speak a kind of Mallorcan-Catalán and in a couple of churches they sing the Sibil-la on Christmas Eve, just like in Mallorca. In Sardinian bakeries and pastry shops you will also find empanadas — the meat-filled pie sold throughout the year but especially at Easter when those made with lamb are a traditional part of a Mallorcan Easter table.

Mallorcans who visit Sicily sometimes get a bit of a shock when they see the Sicilians have a type of sausage that looks and tastes very much like their famous sobrasada.

This Sicilian version of sobrasada is called nduja, it comes from Spilinga in the province of Calabria and it is made exactly like sobrasada: lean pork from the leg, some of the fat, hot paprika and salt. Everything is minced until it forms a soft paste that is ideal for spreading on bread — especially Mallorca’s country bread called pa moreno.

Michele Caporale, cook-owner of La Bottega in Calle Fábrica makes dishes with Mallorca’s sobrasada when his regular clients ask for them. A few weeks ago an Italian supplier gave Michele some Sicilian nduja, and Michele invited me to try it. He used the nduja for the same dishes he makes with sobrasada for some of his regulars.

At about the same time I had eaten at Es Suprem in Calle Parellades that very good baked lasagna. This cafeteria behind the law courts in Vía Alemania sells a few Italian products and I bought a jar of nduja (€7.50).

I took this jar of nduja to La Bottega and it was used as a spread on slices of pan de barra which were toasted in a very hot oven and came out as crostini. This was a good way of tasting nduja for the first time because it was thickly spread on the bread and its taste and texture were very much up front.
I found the nduja just like sobrasada and if this had been a blind tasting I wouldn’t have known this wasn’t the Mallorcan product.

The nduja we had with fried eggs was one that was cured in the traditional intestine casing and it was like a twin of the Mallorcan product. In texture and taste it was a clone of the Mallorcan sobrasada. The only slight difference was that the nduja contained slightly less fat than sobrasada.

A simple dish of spaghetti alla siciliana with the addition of snippets of nduja was quite exquisite. The smallish pieces of nduja were stir-fried with the cooked spaghetti and they disintegrated in the mouth when eaten with the pasta. This is the same effect you get when sobrasada is fried or done on a hot plate.

When cooked with spaghetti or some other long pasta this is a most succulent way of eating nduja or sobrasada and it’s not in any cookbook — neither Sicilian nor Mallorcan.
When Britons or Americans first see the word nduja it seems very strange and difficult to pronounce.
That ‘nd’ start to the word is off-putting and makes it seem like one of those Hungarian or Polish words that are unpronounceable.

But when you know the word is pronounced ‘an doo ya’ it immediately becomes obvious it comes from the French andouille — which is also pronounced ‘an doo ya’.
But the nduja has no relationship whatever with the andouille, a kind of cold meat made in the north of France by boiling together spices, the stomach of the pig (the tripe) with other innards including the small intestine.

Everything is chopped finely and the cooked mixture is used to fill the intestine casings to make a kind of sausage that is sliced and used as a filling for sandwiches and rolls. The most famous of the andouilles are those from Normandy (Vire) and Brittany (Guéméné).
In some parts of France, an andouille is a big thick sausage that is poached with white beans and sliced cabbage.

Unlike other French sausages and charcuterie, the andouille hasn’t travelled very far, although at some point it obviously reached Sicily and the locals there used a phonetic pronunciation of the French word for their sausage that is so much like Mallorca’s sobrasada.
Michele doesn’t intend to use nduja in any of his dishes because its cost would mean high prices on the menu.

But he will continue to do these three dishes with sobrasada for those regulars who want them. The crostini with sobrasada are priced at €10, the fried eggs cost €12 and the spaghetti alla siciliana with sobrasada costs €14.

This meal with the three nduja dishes ended with a nice Sicilian touch. Marcela, Michele’s wife who is in charge of the dining room and also does the desserts (her tiramisu is the best I know of) found a most appropriate dessert a short distance from Calle Fábrica.

It was an ice cream with pistachios from Bronte which connoisseurs consider to be the best in the world. These pistachios, sometimes called the green gold of Sicily, are grown in volcanic soil (Etna is just around the corner) and that gives them a very special touch. Marcela bought this ice cream at Felippo, on the corner of Calle Cataluña with Avda Argentina. It costs €25 a litre and you must order it in advance. It’s somewhat more expensive than other ice creams, but it is unique and it’s worth it.