This Little Piggy Went to the Market

The eleven little piglets in my photo were fifteen days old or thereabouts when I took the photo a few weeks ago. All male piggies will be taken to the market when they are 45 days old to be sold as suckling pigs. The females may be reared to the age of 270 days before they are sold to the Embutidos factory to be made into Sobrassada, Butifarrón or Camaiot. These Mallorcan gastronomic delights are at their best when Porc Negre (black pig) is used. Give it a try, if you can.

The piglets in the photo are not of the pure Porc Negre pedigree but their black spots suggest that somewhere down the line a black pig was involved. These cross-overs are more and more common in Mallorca nowadays. The pure black pig as such is one of the earliest domesticated animals to be found in the Balearic Islands. According to some authors, the Porc Negre is one of the most primitive pig breeds. It is a well-defined race with characteristics differentiating it from other porcine races. The meat has a dry and tender taste to it, quite unlike ordinary pork. Just try not to think of the little suckers whilst enjoying your meal.

The photo was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Spain. The date: May 6th, 2012. The time was 12:42:05.

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

Pla i Llevant Delights

Pla i Llevant is a relatively recent wine region denomination, or, as it is called here in Mallorca, Denominació d’Origen. The denomination covers the region to the East of the island, incorporating Manacor, Felanitx, Porreres, Petra, Algaïda, Muro and Capdepera. There are 12 recognised Bodegas under the Pla i Llevant Denominació d’Origen umbrella, but I know of at least another nine Bodegas that produce wine in this Llevant region that are not acknowledged by the Consell Regulator (the industry regulatory body), four of which are in Felanitx (ANegre and 4 Kilos being the two best known ones).

For the last two nights I have had the pleasure of being able to attend a Cata de Vins, a wine tasting gathering the Associació de Veinats de Son Valls had organised for the benefit of three dozen people from the region of Felanitx, yours truly being one of them. On Monday, we were given six white wines to try, including one with an interesting Macabeu grape. Last night, we tried four rosé wines plus three young red wines. Tonight, there will be an evening of ten more mature red wines, including one with the local Callet grape from three distinct vintage years, 2007, 2010 and 2011. I am looking forward to tonight’s offerings.

What can I tell you about this fascinating and compelling, albeit challenging exercise? For one, I like Mallorcan wines. I am not a great friend of white wines but, there were two Vins Blancs that I thought interesting, both from the Bodega Vins Miquel Gelabert in Manacor, one a blend of Macabeu and Premsal Blanc grapes (Vinya Son Caules Blanc 2010) and the other a mono-varietal Chardonnay (Chardonnay Roure 2010). Very good, if not excellent.

I don’t fancy rosé wines, much to the consternation of some of our friends. I can’t help it. I simply believe that rosé wines suffer from a fashionability and voguishness that I don’t seem to be able to get into. It’s a bit like the expression to chill out. I never chill out; I am quite happy to let all the chill-out people have all the rosé wine there is. Mind you, there was an exception last night, and I must tell you about it (there is always an exception to the rule, isn’t there?). Anyway, the wine I was surprised to like even though it was of a pale rosé colour is called Flor de Cerezo 2011 – Viña Querel. If ever you have a chance to try this surprisingly rich and subtly fragrant concoction of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, you must. They serve it at the Vall d’Or Golf Club, where they sell it at 19.50 € per bottle. The wine is elaborated and bottled under commission by Armero i Adrover in Felanitx.

My passion, however, is for Mallorcan Vins Negres (Vinos Tintos, red wines). Tonight will be the night, and if I survive this tour-de-force, I might tell you all about it unless you get bored with all this wine talk.

If you want to try wines from the Pla i Llevant region for yourself, there will be an opportunity this Friday night in Manacor. The town is currently celebrating its Fires i Festes de Primavera. Friday, June 1st, 20h30, at the Claustre de Sant Vicenç Ferrer, a Tast de Vins Pla i Llevant will be held under the motto Connegum els Nostre Vins. Admission charge will be 10 €. Participating Bodegas will be Toni Gelabert, Miquel Gelabert, Pere Seda, Armero i Adrover, Miquel Oliver, Jaume Mesquida, Butxet, Can Majoral, Vi d’Auba, Bordoy, Galmés i Ferrer, Cas Beato, Es Fangar and Son Artigues. I might see you there.

The photos were taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 29th, 2012. The time was 22:13:08 and 21:22:56, respectively.

Pla i Llevant Delights

What Are Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, Porquers And Talós?

Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, PorquersEtxurats and Talós are the names for some of the traditional Mallorcan peasant pocket knives. You will not find a single Pagès on the island who would not carry one of those traditional knives on him, or an assortment of them, depending on the task in hand.

Traditional country folks in Mallorca always have a job to do, be that hunting, fishing, vine grafting, sheep or goat herding, harvesting, what have you. For such tasks and similar jobs, you need at times a sharp knife and you better have one on you, just in case. The typical Mallorcan pocket knife comes either with a wooden handle, often in Ullastre, the Wild Olive tree, or in goat horn finish. Prices range from 9 € to 45 €, depending on size, type and finish. I know of three reputable knife makers on the island, Ordinas in Llucmajor, Joan Campins in Consell (see photo top), and Miralles in Muro (see photo bottom), all of them producing the trusted pocket knives in stainless steel, beautifully hand-crafted.

The photo (top) was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 6th, 2012. The time was 13:00:51. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and artesaniademenorca.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

What Are Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, Porquers And Talós?

Oranges and Sunshine

When we first came to Mallorca, it was one of our first ambitions to have a lemon tree in our garden. We pretty soon succeeded in planting our very own specimen.

Only much later we came to realize that the sweet aroma of orange blossoms was an equally important addition to our perfumed garden, if not much more so. You have to smell an orange tree in full bloom to know the fragrant smell; words alone can’t describe it. Orange blossoms are all prim and virginal when the buds are shut tight. But when those petals part and the plump and sticky, frilly and feathery bits of pistil and stamen spill out, orange blossoms look just a bit promiscuous. Pollinating bees everywhere respond to this sensory scent like a moth is attracted to the consuming flame.

Not all that long ago, Mallorcans were busy producing Agua de Azahar or Flor de Taronger, an orange flower water also known as Fleur d’Oranger. I imagine that this stimulant was first initiated by the Maurish settlers on this island, hundreds of years ago. Today, no such tonic water is produced here in Mallorca. One can buy Fleur d’Oranger in a Morrocan corner shop, though, and a cheaper version in one or the other supermarket. Fleur d’Oranger is a welcome ingredient for some baking and patisserie pastries and can also be used in cooking or to flavour drinks. In North Africa you will be offered Fleur d’Oranger to clean your hands as you enter a host’s house.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 12:46:59.

Oranges and Sunshine

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porciúncula

The church of Portiuncula in Playa de Palma is really called Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de la Porciúncula. The temple is also known as Iglesia de Cristal (Glass Church).

The church and its monastic annex were built in 1964 and inaugurated in 1968. Originally, the complex was conceived as a seminary to prepare students for priesthood. Somehow, over the years, the Catholic church in Spain and in Mallorca has suffered a set-back, though, and monasteries, convents, monks, nuns and priests in general are now on the decline. I am not sure where the few candidates who nowadays elect clergy as a professional career are being taught; I suppose it might be at the Seminari Nou round the corner from Carrer de Monti-sion in Palma’s old town.

The Portiuncula church is of a circular shape; its main feature are the 39 stained glass windows designed by Juan Bautista Castro, a painter. The visual effects are quite stunning. You should go and have a look. There is also a Museo de la Porciúncula offering archeological titbits, ethnological oddities and a hodgepodge of numismatic items, recommended really only for its odd eccentricity. If you want to have a look at perhaps 300 maggot-eaten Cuban cigars, this is where you will find them, neatly arranged in glass display cases.

Occasionally, concerts are held here and not only of a religious content. The acoustic qualities of the church are quite remarkable. Again, if you would have the opportunity to attend, I feel you might not be disappointed.

The photos were taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 25th, 2012. The time was 18:52:58, 18:21:09 and 18:30:21, respectively.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porciúncula

The Baronia de Banyalbufar

During the Catalan conquest of 1229 the pueblo of Banyalbufar was granted to two noblemen, Gilabert de Cruïlles and Ramon Sa Clusa. A feudal Barony was established, the Baronia de Banyalbufar. Up until the 15th century, the Lord of the manor ran a practically absolutist government, the Barony of Banyalbufar. The baron maintained the civil and criminal jurisdiction over the entire population, stretching to and, at that time, including Esporles. Nowadays, the Baronia de Banyalbufar (see photo) is offering guest accommodation in nine rooms, affording splendid sea views. Rates for half-board are priced at around 96 € per room.

The Baronial tower dates from the 17th century even though I can’t help but detect a striking resemblance to other Mallorcan torres which are said to date back to the Arab period.

The photos were taken in Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2012. The time was 16:45:40 and 16:47:35, respectively.

The Baronia de Banyalbufar

Air Attacks Over Palma in 1937

75 years ago this week, there were two days of severe air attacks over Palma, coming from the Republican resistance to the military putsch of the Falangist movement. Plenty of damage was caused, including the loss of civilian life, particularly in the boroughs of Santa Catalina and Porta de Sant Antoni, where nowadays Carrer de Sant Miquel and Carrer dels Olms would meet. Palma’s leading newspaper at that time, La Almudaina, reported extensively about the Canallesca hazaña de los aviadores rojos (Despicable deed of the red flying machines), when in reality the attacks were aimed at the commandos of the war planes of Benito Mussolini‘s Aviazione Legionara (Italian Air Brigade, financed by none other than a certain Juan March Ordinas) and the German Legion Condor who had come to the help of the Caudillo‘s (General Franco’s) attempt to overthrow the government of the Second Spanish Republic. The foreign air forces had shortly before attacked Durango and Gernika in the Basque province in Northern Spain. Both, the Italian as well as the German air legions had a major presence here in Mallorca during the duration of the Guerra Civil. The Italian Air Brigade, for instance, bombarded Barcelona with air planes stationed here in Mallorca in March 1938.

Later in 1937, Palma suffered two more bombardments on October 7th, and December 7th, respectively.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of diariodemallorca.es, and the bottom one, courtesy of nothemingwaysspain.blogspot.com.es. Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Air Attacks Over Palma in 1937