In Majorca there has been a growing movement over recent years to protect the island's culture and traditions from “Americanisation” and yesterday pa amb oli went head-to-head against the almighty Big Mac. Tomás Graves, son of the late Robert Graves, has even written a book about pa amb oli and its importance to saving Majorca's culture and traditions. Yesterday, despite the rain, defenders of the pa amb oli passed round platters of free examples in front of the McDonalds on the Borne for everyone to taste. Apart from the traditional Majorcan dish's health benefits, rich in olive oil and sun dried tomatoes, the traditional pan moreno bread is also a typical product Majorcans are trying to protect and preserve. The traditional wood ovens used to bake the bread fail to comply with European Union law and there are very few left operating on the island. Pa amb oli lovers, along with the local olive oil producers, have already had to lobby Brussels over the EU olive oil laws, Majorca's rich virgin olive oil was stronger than the permitted EU levels, but the oil was eventually rescued from the hands of the bureaucrats. So a few slices of bread, soaked in virgin oil and rubbed with sun-dried tomatoes are far more than a mere plate of food. Pa amb oli, and all that goes with it, is a vital part of Majorca's heritage and over the past few years has become increasingly fashionable with pa amb oli “bistros” being set up offering delicacies such as pa amb oli with caviar. However, with more and more fast food outlets opening across Majorca, to cater largely for the visiting foreign palate, but now ever increasingly for the domestic market, the traditionalists still have a battle on their hands. The public's response to yesterday's pa amb oli demonstration, which even targeted people as they came in and out of McDonalds, was positive and organisers hope that apart from saving the pa amb oli for generations to come, they can also encourage the public to help protect the livelihoods and traditions involved with producing such a quickly and easily prepared dish from the likes of Uncle Sam and Brussels.


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