If you have been living in Mallorca long enough, or if you are a frequent visitor, chances are that you have eaten some Pa amb Oli (more about Pa amb Oli some other time.)
In all likelihood, you will also have seen the funny looking strings of hanging tomatoes, the ominous Tomàtigues de Ramellet. This tomato variety grows on sprigs (= ramellets), hence the name.
The Tomàtiga de Ramellet is used in the preparation of a proper Pa amb Oli. You can read more about the numerous indigenous Mallorcan tomato varieties and also about the cult of the Mallorcan Pa amb Oli in Tomàs Graves‘ lovely little book, Bread & Oil. According to Robert Graves’ son, the Tomàtiga de Ramellet is a small and compact tomato, which comes with a tough skin and pasty flesh.
The Tomàtiga de Ramellet is usually harvested in July and August, and you can find it in the markets by September. Only one part of the crop is sold in the markets after the harvest; the remaining tomatoes are strung by hand and hung to dry. They last well over the winter; a second batch of these tomatoes gets to the mercats in January and February, at a slightly higher price than they were in the autumn. You can find Tomàtigues de Ramellet in the country tiendas as late as May.
This year, there may be a bit of a problem though. Tomàtigues de Ramellet do not like the rain. You will know that we had a lot of rain, virtually all of last year, and there seem to be less Tomàtigues de Ramellet on sale now than in other years, and at a higher price than usual.
The photo was taken in the town of Inca, Mallorca, Spain. The date: January 24th, 2008. The time was 15:18:31.