Moving Back Home

You may or may not remember that I had told you about my little episode with a Chinese hairdresser in Manacor, earlier this year. Yesterday, I noticed that bang next door to that Chinese salon, another hairdresser has opened up shop. The new one is Moroccan. It seems to me that Moroccans as well as Chinese are the two nationalities that have actively increased their migration to Mallorca over the last few years. A the same time, it would appear that a large number of immigrants from other countries, and especially those with a background in South America, are in the process of returning to their country of origin.

A recently published study undertaken by the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, National Statistics Institute) predicts a negative growth of the population in Spain, with a number of minus 34,193 being given for 2011. The decrease appears to be due to a reduced number of births as well as to more people leaving the country than are migrating to Spain from elsewhere. For Mallorca, a figure of 6,080 is given for an increase of residents in the Balearic islands in 2011, a number far smaller than over the last few years. It must all be down to La Crisis, otra vez.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 1st, 2011. The time was 11:37:25.

Moving Back Home

Truffled Delights

Truffles are usually associated with the Grande Cuisine of France, and of course, also with Italy and its Grande Cucina, but, did you know that the Trufa negra is also growing on the Spanish mainland, mainly in the area between Tarragona, Valencia and Zaragoza. And what about Mallorca?

The Tuber aestivum (Summer truffle) is particularly native to the Islas Baleares and can be found here in Mallorca in fair abundance. You would need to have a pig with a nose for truffles, though, or a good dog with an equally good sniff, to find some of these treasures in oaky woods here on the island. Failing that, you could look for Mallorcan truffles in one of the autumn markets or else, in one of the main mercats in Palma, such as Mercat de l’Olivar or Mercat de Santa Catalina. Now is also the time when Mallorca’s top restaurants might offer you some Cerdo Ibérico con foie gras y jugo de trufas (Iberian pork with foie gras and truffle juice) or perhaps Carnes tiernas de cerdo iberico rellenas de Setas con puré de patata trufada (Stuffed roast pork with mushrooms and truffled potato purée). The choice is all yours.

Last week, the Guía Michelin España & Portugal 2012 was presented in Barcelona. In that latest guide-book, there are 113 restaurants listed in Spain with one Michelin star, 16 establishments with two stars and 5 estrellas with three etoiles each. In Mallorca, there are now six restaurants with one Michelin star each, and they might well have some seasonal truffle dishes on offer. The laurelled restaurants are Es Fum (Hotel St. Regis Mardavall, Palmanova), Jardín (Port d’Alcúdia), Es Racó d’es Teix (Deià), Tristán (Portals Nous), Zaranda (Hotel Hilton Sa Torre) and Es Molí d’en Bou (Sa Coma), with Es Fum and Jardín being new additions to the sometimes controversial merit.

You will probably find truffled delights in other good restaurants in Mallorca, just the same.

The photo was taken in Caimari, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 20th, 2011. The time was 13:40:45.

Truffled Delights

The Trobada de Xeremiers

I went to Sa Pobla yesterday and I had a good time there. There was plenty of music in Sa Pobla, good, vibrant, rhythmic, traditional music. I love music, and I do like Mallorcan traditional folk music very much.

The pueblo of Sa Pobla, bang in the middle of the island, was the meeting place this weekend just gone for Mallorca’s Collas de Xeremiers, the small groups of musicians playing traditional instrumental Mallorcan music. A good number of musicians play the Xeremía instrument here on the island, a bagpipe not all that dissimilar to the Scottish Highland version but still, quite distinct. A Colla is normally a duet composed of the Mallorcan bagpipe with a second musician playing both, the Flabiol (tabor pipe) and a small Tamborí (drum). The Trobada de Xeremiers is an annual event. I don’t know where they might have met last year, but, in 2009, the meeting was held in Mancor de la Vall. Yesterday’s meet was the 17th such event.

Sa Pobla held its annual Fira de Tardor yesterday, and the Xeremiers meeting was an added bonus event. There was also a Fira de Luthiers, a trade fair where the instrument makers could show off their handmade bagpipes, drums, pipes, flutes, Ocarinas, Ximbombas and Xerracs. The music played on these instruments is believed to originally have come from the Occitania area of France and is said to have been brought to Mallorca with the Catalan conquest in 1229. Initially, this music was played by minstrels, to accompany bards and to be listened to by the nobility, but since, has become a widely spread popular tradition. In Spain, this type of music is only played in the Illes Balears, in Catalunya and in the Valencia region.

The photos were taken in Sa Pobla, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 27th, 2011. The time was 14:21:33, 13:50:46 and 13:52:09.

The Trobada de Xeremiers

Beato Ramon Llull

Spain is a country largely influenced by the Catholic church. The impact of religion here may be somewhat diminished when compared to, say, fifty or a hundred years ago, but most children in Spain are still baptized in church, most brides still get married in church and most families still bury their dead in cemeteries following church rites. There’s nothing wrong with that; I am simply stating a reality, even though the trend is one of slow decline.

You may be interested to know, then, that today, November 27th, the Catholic church celebrates a total of 27 saints, amongst them persons such as San Acario de Noyón, San Basileo, Beato Bernardino de Fossa, Santa Bilhildis, Beato Bronislao Kostowski, San Eusicio, San Jacobo Interciso, San Laverio, San Leonardo and San Primitivo. The one I am most interested in is Beato Ramon Llull (Raymundus Lullus). This Mallorcan born writer, philosopher, hermit, martyr and missionary also was a Tertiary Franciscan, and the founder of a seminary college which, in turn and through the centuries, turned into the UIB University in Palma. Ramon Llull was beatified, blessed and sanctified in 1857 by Pope Pius IX.

Palma’s UIB university uses Ramon Llull as their patron figure and as such, celebrates November 27th as a special festive day in honour of the great man. As this day falls on a Sunday this year, festivities will be celebrated tomorrow, November 28th, instead. I understand that no lectures will be given tomorrow and no classes will be held either.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Wikipedia.org. Thank you very much.

Beato Ramon Llull

Salvem Portocolom

Many regions of Mallorca have been changed beyond recognition by the unholy alliance of avarice, concrete, development and growth. Only a handful of areas were saved in time, mainly thanks to civil unrest and the peaceful protest of some courageous citizens, such as Mondragó, Sa Dragonera, Es Trenc and the Serra Tramuntana.

Portocolom, the harbour town of Felanitx and its commercial expansion, have been a topic of contention for the last twenty years or longer. Portocolom is one of the last few unspoilt resorts in Mallorca but, nothing lasts forever. The Spanish national harbour authority and its Balearic branch (Ports de les Illes Balears) is currently undertaking a study evaluating possibilities and necessities for future expansions of the maritime facilities of the port of Portocolom. Local residents argue in contra of any such expansion plans, saying that neither the harbour authority nor the Govern Balear nor the Ajuntament de Felanitx publicly say or demonstrate what the aim of the current study is, or what the purpose of its possible outcome might be. There is no transparency in the planning process nor any public scrutiny. It is argued that currently there are 800 moorings available in Portocolom, including 260 newly created moorings over the last ten years. When will big enough ever be considered sufficient?

The Portocolom citizens movement, Plataforma Quin Port Volem, has scheduled a human chain for today, November 26th, at 11h00, to demonstrate their massive opposition against the political bias in favour of a mafia of speculation and greed. If you read this in time, you might want to participate, of course purely depending on your personal leanings.

Miquel Barceló, the Felanitx-born artist, painter and sculptor, expressed his support for the protection of Portocolom’s natural beauty in 1989 by designing a poster under the heading Porto Colom Perill de Mort (Porto Colom in danger of dying). More recently, he has not voiced much opinion about topics relating to Felanitx or Portocolom, other than designing menus for a Portocolom based seafood restaurant or labels for some vi negre (red wine) of a Felanitx bodega of international repute.

The photo (top) is a screenshot taken from my computer, courtesy of sigpac.mapa.es and the Gobierno de España/marm.gob.es. The poster (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of forumdefelanitx.cat. The image (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of miquelbarcelo.info.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

Salvem Portocolom

The Església Vella in Caimari

I have found another rare sundial, designed in 1851; that would make it 160 years old. The sundial sits prominently above the main portal of Caimari’s Església Vella, the old church. Caimari is a charming little pueblo in the district of Selva, sitting on the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana, coming to life once or twice a year at the occasion of the olive harvest, the Fira de s’Oliva, and one or two other festivities that the calendar holds, such as the Festes de la Inmaculada in August. Church services are no longer offered at the old church but, instead, are now held at the newer Església de la Inmaculada Concepció. Occasionally, art exhibitions are held at the Església Vella, or an intermittent concert of classical or antique music. The acoustics are quite good.

I have you know that a concert will be held next Sunday, November 27th, at 20h00, as part of the VI Festival Internacional de Música Antiga de Caimari. Admission will be free. Música barroca will be played on Mediaeval instruments. Two more concerts will be held of Música Antiga, but at other venues and, as it happens, not in Caimari itself (November 30th, 2011, and January 7th, 2012).

The photo (top) was taken in Caimari, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 20th, 2011. The time was 14:18:32. The image (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Església Vella in Caimari

Rape, the Delicious Monkfish

The Rape fish (anglerfish, monkfish, Latin: Lophius piscatorius) may not look attractive with its big teethed mouth, may even be considered ugly, but hey, it is ever so pleasing on the palate. In fact, Rape is one of my favourites when it comes to fish dishes. Its taste is not unlike that of a lobster tail in flavor and texture. The flesh of Rape is different from other fish in as much as it is not flaky but firm and meaty. Rape does not have the usual fish bones either; it rather has a vertebral column-like backbone. The skin of the fish has no scales either.

The fish in my photo was a specimen of easily 1 metre in length with a weight well in excess of 10 kilogrammes. Female Rapes can grow up to 2 metres in length weighing up to 45 kg. The local fish markets normally offer skinned and headless Rapes of considerably smaller sizes with perhaps up to 2 kg in weight. In Mallorcan restaurants you will find a variety of Rape recipes, either as a Solomillo de Rape en Salsa, a Caldereta de Pescado with Rape mixed with other fish, or a Frito Mallorquin de Pescado y Marisco. You can also buy Higado de Rape (the Rape fish liver) and try your hand at a delicious Terrine de Foie de Rape without a feeling of guilt. The fish was not force-fed; in fact, Rape is one of the fish varieties that so far has resisted from being fish-farmed.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 5th, 2005. The time was 13:51:30. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of gourmetymerlin.blogspot.com.

Muchas gracias.

Rape, the Delicious Monkfish