The Choice is Yours

Guardia de Honor Palma de Mallorca 2

Mallorca is quite a unique island, really. Here, everyone can find what makes him (or her) happy, be it the long beach or the solitary cove, the old town of Palma and its exciting history of 2000 years, the wilderness of the Tramuntana mountain range, the encounter with the past in Chopin’s Valldemossa, the fortified rock castles, the picturesque beauty of the almond blossom season, the intriguingly hooded Easter processions or the dramatic alpine roads, equally attractive to motorists, motorcyclists and competitive cyclists.

Es Calderer Sant Joan Mallorca

The market days in the pueblos of the island center are just as alluring as the festivities celebrating the wine harvest, the Melon Festival, the correfoc fire runs or the annual animal blessings. Only recently, Palma de Mallorca was named by an English Sunday newspaper as the most attractive city of all in terms of the standard of living. In Mallorca, there is so much to visit and even more to discover. The island offers a vast variety of gastronomic delights, from roast lamb or paella to the roast suckling pig or the thick hot chocolate. The range of restaurants, tapas lounges and beach bars is vast; the agony of choice sometimes turns a simple task into a daunting affair.

Badhia de Alcúdia Mallorca

Mallorca is said to have 254 beaches, 171 monasteries and hermitages, 57 wineries, 301 km of trail of the dry stone route (GR 221), 6,000 years of populated History, 228 sundials, 17 bird sanctuary areas, 6 nature reserves, 300 days of sunshine, 2,922 restaurants, 1,538 cafeterias and 3,064 bars, 53 municipalities, 54 mountains with an altitude of more than 1000 m, 16 lighthouses, 52 defense towers and 157 courtyards in Palma alone. Fortunate is he who has a vehicle at his disposal to find what makes him happy.

Far de Porto Pi, Palma de Mallorca 2

If you need a rental car for your trip to explore the island, you might want to examine the rates of Carhire-Mallorca. There, you will be given the best rental prices for a first class car hire service. The choice can be yours without the agony.

The Choice is Yours

Langostas and Bogavantes

I like lobsters. They are somewhat dinosaurian in appearance, don’t you think? It pleases me every time I see them on offer in Palma’s Mercat de l’Olivar, for instance. But then I get confused because I don’t know what Langostas are as opposed to Bogavantes. Do I like both crustaceans, or which one is which? Do they both get caught here around the island of Mallorca, or do they come from the Atlantic Ocean?

Bogavantes are known in the English language as the European lobster or Common lobster (Homarus gammarus). The ones sold in Palma’s markets are predominantly caught in the Atlantic waters around Galicia, even though they live along the Moroccan coast as well, and in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. They are the ones with the big, fat claws. They are commonly sold live with their claws restrained by elastic bands. Occasionally you can buy them live and swimming in a tank without any harness, such as shown here (photo top). Bogavantes are sold these days for between 32 € and 48 €, but they can go up to 70 € at times.

The spiny variety is called Langosta in Spain, known in English as Spiny lobster, rock lobster or Langouste (Panulirus interruptus). Langostas sold here mostly come from Mallorcan waters; they currently retail for between 22 € and 35 €, but they can go up to 60 €, sometimes.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 13:33:51 and 13:23:26, respectively.

Langostas and Bogavantes

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

An Invasion of Snails

You may not be much into snails as a gastronomic treat or even as a pet but, this being a blog about Mallorca and its traditions and customs, snails it is today. Caragols or caracoles (snails) are an indispensable part of the Mallorcan cuisine, and sometimes are kept as a domestic animal, and certainly so in Sant Jordi.

Yesterday, the pueblo of Sant Jordi, near S’Aranjassa, staged its annual Fira del Caragol (Snail Fair). Snail race competitions were held for the youngsters in the afternoon and a cooking contest of dishes made with snails was staged in the evening, before the night was danced away. An invasion of snails indeed. The agricultural Fira continues today, May 20th, and if you haven’t been to Sant Jordi, this might be the day when you go.

We recently had an invasion of snails in our patio garden, much to the delight of our carniverous tortoise (Manouria emys). We catch the snails for him as he is too slow to outpace them, would you believe it?

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 25th, 2012. The time was 11:00:23. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of lauryngreen.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

An Invasion of Snails

Flower Power

The Fira de ses Flors in Costitx is a bit of a misnomer. More appropriately, it should rather be called a fair of flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns and other gardening and horticultural paraphernalia. But then, that would not roll so nicely off the tongue, would it? Anyway, the Fira was held yesterday; I went there with my wife and we thoroughly enjoyed our outing. Of all the Firas and Festes in Mallorca, there is only a handful or so that we really enjoy, and this one is one of them. Not everybody may agree with our choice but not everyone is into flowers and plants and trees and green fingers the way we are. Suum cuique.

The Fira de ses Flors is actually a bit of a peculiarity here in Mallorca. This one is not one of the traditional fairs or markets that has been going for hundreds or at least, dozens of years. This fair was devised with a political motivation. It was conceived by none other than Maria Antònia Munar i Riutort, longstanding Batlessa (mayoress) of Costitx from 1983 to 2007 but probably better known as the erstwhile President of nearly every political office Mallorca has to offer. Her ambition was to put her pueblo on the political map. She achieved that daunting task by instigating the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca in Costitx which was inaugurated in May 1991, and by initiating the Fira de ses Flors.

The talented lady was once Mallorca’s most popular and certainly most powerful female before she was seen as the most hated mayoress or indeed, politician amongst her compatriots. She is currently accused of a whole array of political misconduct and will stand in court any time soon, wanting to prove her innocence.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:43:19.

Flower Power

Sant Marc and the Fate of Snails

I have a few admissions to make, this Day of Sant Marc (Mark the Evangelist). For some reason, this is the day when tradition in Mallorca calls for the celebration of Caragoladas, snail eating banquets.

Admission no. one: I have taken lots of photos of snails over the years in all shapes and sizes, alive or boiled, on the plate or in the field, in the nature or in Mallorca’s markets but right now, I can’t find any of my snail photos just as I would need one. I seem to lack in keywording abilities or in more efficient photo archiving. I am sorry but I had to borrow a photo from Wikimedia.

Admission no. two: I am at a total loss as to why Sant Marc is associated with the eating of snails. The snail eating capital of Mallorca seems to be Sineu, but Algaïda and Sant Jordi are big snail eating communities as well. In Sant Jordi, an annual snail race is held, albeit a bit later, in mid-May. Sineu is celebrating its patron’s day today, Sant Marc, with the usual Wednesday market in an extra special, festive edition, whilst banks and offices have a festive day off. I believe that the Palau dels Reis will be open for visits today in Sineu as well. Sineu is also the place where Caragols-Mallorca resides, Mallorca’s largest snail breeders.

I am sorry if I may sound a bit vague today but there you are. I don’t know everything, so there.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of wikimedia.org. and the photographer, Thomas Schoch. The photo (bottom) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 9th, 2008. The time was 15:33:58.

Thank you very much, and

vielen Dank.

Sant Marc and the Fate of Snails

Pruning the Vines

Out there in Mallorca’s vineyards, this year’s first young shoots have appeared. The grapes will start to form in May and will grow and ripen over the Summer, before the Vendimia (wine harvest) starts in September.

The care for a field of vines is one of the hardest and most labour intense physical work I have ever come across. The vines have to be pruned and cleaned of last year’s shoots as early as January, before the earth between the rows of vines is ploughed and cultivated in February and possibly once more in March. The vines have to be pruned again in April and perhaps once more, in June. The varieties of grapes will then be evaluated, combined, married, macerated and fermented in the tank, for a maturation period of several months in the barrel, before the wine is bottled. The vino resulting from the shoot in today’s photo will not be ready for consumption for at least one year from now, and in some cases not for another eighteen months or even two years.

Saying this, the first Mallorcan wines of 2011 have just been presented, earlier this week. Last year was a good one for wine here in Mallorca, or so one hears.

One of the more important annual Mallorcan wine gatherings will be held in Pollença tomorrow and Sunday, the Fira del Vi (Pollença Wine Fair), presenting a hundred plus wines from 36 bodegas from the Balearic Islands. This event will take place at the Claustro de Santo Domingo (Convent), a historic venue opposite the Joan March gardens in Pollença, where cultural activities are organized throughout the year such as the Festival de Pollença. This will be an opportunity to try the first wines from last year and more mature wines from 2008, 2009 and 2010 (Saturday, 10h00-20h30, Sunday 10h00-14h00). Don’t drink when you drive, though.

¡Salut!

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 17:30:18.

Pruning the Vines