My youngest daughter Catarina and I have just spent a few days in Majorca. We were in the north of the island, at Playa de Muro, far away from the party beaches down south – very, very far away – in distance as well as state of mind. We spent one long, lovely day in rural Majorca, outback Majorca – shopping ingredients at the market, sampling local produce, then cooking lunch outdoors. Just a fab day all round.
First stop of the day is the Thursday market in Inca, third largest town in Majorca, and home of Camper shoes. No shoe shopping for me today alas, but there’s time for a browse. The market is huge and just about anything is for sale: basket ware, sunglasses, and an impressive assortment of bras.
And then, of course, there’s bunyols, (buñuelos in Spanish), fried dough balls topped with sugar; doughnuts, really.
An abundance of colours, textures, flavours…
We buy mild, white onions, equally mild green peppers, large beef tomatoes, and for the pa amb oli, the smaller tomàtiga de Ramellet, firm on the outside, soft on the inside, with a more intense and slightly bitter taste; perfect for rubbing on fresh bread.
We stop in Binissalem, a sweet little village in the rolling hills of Majorca’s wine region. Binissalem… sounds Arabic, no? Means sons of Salem, if I remember my Arabic correctly. The Moors once ruled this island, as they did much of Spain. More than 1 000 years before the Moors, however, the Romans lounged about here, occupying the island and drinking wine. As far back as the 1st century AD, Majorcan wine is mentioned in Roman manuscripts.
Well, certainly can’t break such a long and prominent tradition, now, can we? The only thing to do is sample the local products. We wander in through the doors of a small bodega, home of Ca’n Novell wines, sold from the barrel for next to nothing.
Our little group try six different wines, beginning with young whites and reds, then moving on to an older red, and then sweet dessert wines, one yummier than the next. (Of course Cat, like most 11-year-olds, fails to see the charm of a country wine tasting and uses the opportunity to check out yet another show jumping vid on YouTube).
Cooking in rural Majorca
Finally, we’re off to the finca, our cooking venue for the day. In the garden of this curious house, we hand over meat – pollo y cerdo – to Juan, barbeque chef extraordinaire, then get on with chopping ingredients for a trampo, a traditional Majorcan salad…
…and making the pa amb oli, also typical of this region – and one of life’s simple pleasures: delicious, healthy and, as a bonus, very easy to make: you take a hefty piece of fresh peasant bread, rub it with half a tomato, drizzle on some very good local olive oil, then sprinkle on salt. That’s it. Even I can do it. And that’s saying something…
Stay tuned for more on Majorca in the weeks to come. Horses will feature prominently.