Most visitors to Majorca these days realise that there is much more to the island than simply sun, sea and sand. The beauties of the small coastal and inland villages and the spectacular rocky and marine landscapes of the rugged Tramuntana coast are there for all to see and enjoy.
Majorca is a small paradise for lovers of gastronomy and wine with many splendid culinary delights, unexplored recipes and exceptional wines that you have never heard of. However, year after year, some visitors miss these island delicacies.
One of the reasons why visitors go home without trying the local gastronomic delights is that they don't know they exist. So, to make sure you try some of the Majorcan specialties, here is a quick look at some of the local dishes that you will see in the Majorcan menus.
One of the best roasted meats on the island, is the piglet and a great favorite among Majorcans and foreign residents and visitors. The best roast suckling pigs are made in traditional Majorcan brick firewood ovens. They are roasted slowly until they are very tender, the skin crisp and brittle. It is usually served with an escarole salad and small roasted or sauteed Majorcan potatoes called patató. It is a very abundant dish, so have a light entree.
Mè al forn
Roast lamb, another dish which Majorcan cooks do very well. It can be leg or shoulder and the best ones are done in a wood-fired oven. Usually served very tender, the meat literally falling off the bone when nudged with a fork. Majorcan lamb chops are also worth trying although they’re more of a tasty morsel rather than a filling dish.
Conill amb ceba
Pieces of rabbit slowly sautéd with lots of sliced onions until the rabbit is very tender and the onions meltingly soft. When properly done it’s one of the tastiest dishes you’ll find on any Majorcan menu. It is usually served on its own, without potatoes, rice or salad — but be sure to eat it with lots of Majorcan country bread.Some restaurants do it roasted in the oven or chargrilled, when it is especially succulent.Chargrilled rabbit is served with a side dish of garlic mayonnaise, called aioli in Mallorquín.
Llengua amb tàperes
Another true Majorcan dish you shouldn’t miss. It is slices of tongue (ox, lamb or pig) gently stewed with capers until very tender. The combination of tongue with capers is an inspired one, making this dish a very special contribution to Spanish regional cooking. Connoisseurs consider Majorcan capers to be the world’s best and it’s a good idea to take a couple of jars back with you. The smallest capers are the best — and the most expensive.
In Majorca, and elsewhere in Spain, snails are rustic fare served piled high in deep plates. They are cooked in a savoury stock with little bits of ham and other charcuterie, lots of fresh herbs and a few hot chillis. You extract the snails with a special little fork or a cocktail stick and dip them into a side dish of aioli. A normal restaurant portion is enough for four as a tasty little starter.
An old favourite that crops up in cuisines all over the world: meatballs. The Majorcan kind are herby and tasty and you will sometimes come across them in tapas bars. Restaurant often do them with potatoes and vegetables cooked together in an earthenware dish.
In Majorca it goes under the name of bollit and contains meat, poultry, charcuterie, potatoes and vegetables cooked in a flavourful stock. The stock is drained off, small pasta is added and it is served as a soup. The other ingredients are served separately as a mains. Not an easy dish to find on local menus, but worth trying when you come across it.
Another of Majorca’s great emblematic dishes, a succulent pan-fried mixture of chopped potatoes, onions, spring onions, red peppers and the lights of lamb, peas, liver and other ingredients. It is usually flavoured with fresh fennel, a plant that grows wild all over the island. Eat it with Majorcan country bread and a local red wine, either as a mid-morning snack or a starter for lunch. A normal restaurant portion is ideal for sharing between four as a tapa.
A variation of the above dish that is a speciality in coastal towns and villages. Instead of using lamb or suckling pig lights, the recipe calls for chopped fish and shellfish such as prawns, mussels and squid or cuttlefish. A colourful dish that pleases the eye and the palate.
Another of the island’s great specialities. Although it usually appears in the soups section of a menu, it is not a soup. It does start off as a soup, usually containing lots of vegetables and sometimes diced pork and local charcuterie. When the ingredients are cooked, wafer-thin slices of Majorcan brown country are slipped in until they completely absorb the stock. The dish then becomes sopes mallorquines, a moist mound of bread, vegetables and meat. Absolutely delicious when freshly made — and if there are any leftovers they can be reheated most successfully.
Yet another Majorcan contribution to Spanish regional cooking, it is the island’s variation on a theme you find throughout the Mediterranean: a mixture of potatoes, red peppers, aubergines and tomatoes.Served as a starter and sometimes as a mains when combined with slices of pan-fried loin of pork. Ask the waiter to serve a portion with a couple of lightly fried eggs on top: rustic food at its delicious best and ideal for sharing.
On the English language section of the menu this is usually translated as ‘dirty rice’, which can be a bit off-putting unless you know it’s a kind of thickish casserole containing chicken, rabbit, pork vegetables and rice. An authentic version should be made with game of some kind which gives the dish a darkish or ’dirty’ colour. In Mallorquín brut means dirty.It comes to the table in a Majorcan earthenware pot and a portion for two will usually be enough for four, even as a mains.
For many people, aubergines (berenjenas) are their favourite Mediterranean veggie. Majorca is a good place to eat aubergines because they are the best I have ever tasted: sweet and with a pulpy flesh that never fails to please. Majorcans adore aubergines and a favourite way of eating them is ‘rellena’ — stuffed with minced meat, covered with a tomato sauce and baked in the oven. Some fish restaurants stuff them with fish or shellfish and anoint them with a béchamel sauce. Either way they are delish. Look out for alcachofas rellenas (stuffed artichokes) and calabacines rellenos (stuffed courgettes), two other Majorcan specialities that should be on your list of dishes to try.
This is the generic term for wild mushrooms and you will see it on restaurant menus from the start of autumn to the end of winter. All kinds of wild mushrooms (and there’s a big choice) are at their most memorable when simply grilled or pan-fried, sprinkled with finely chopped garlic and parsley and served as a starter. Sometimes they become a main course when served with slices of pork loin or pork fillet. They are also very special when served with Majorcan black puddings called botifarrones. You will also comes across them in rice dishes and stirred into scrambled eggs.
There are vegan and vegetarian alternatives to some of these dishes.
For more information visit www.mallorca.es