Feeding the Starved

Pa de Sant Antoni

This may not be the image that the Mallorca Tourist Board would want to see highlighted, but there you go.

Ever since unemployment rose to unprecedented levels here in Mallorca, almost four years ago, more and more families and single mothers with children find it increasingly difficult to feed themselves. In a sometimes really difficult situation hundreds of destitute people depend on the help of charitable organisations on the island, such as the Catholic Church, the Lions Club, banks such as Sa Nostra Solidaria and Caixa de Colonya, the Salvation Army or ONGs such as Comedor Zaqueo and Projecte Home Balears.

Every weekday morning, the Frailes Caputxins in the Convent dels Caputxins (Capuchin monastery) just off Plaça d’Espanya hand out a sandwich to up to 400 hungry and impoverished souls. The convent has a door in Carrer Bastió d’en Sanoguera where a bocadillo and a piece of Ensaïmada is handed out for free without any questions asked bar your name. In addition, every Monday afternoon, you can see dozens of shopping trolleys parked outside the Puerta de Pa de Sant Antoni, ready to carry home warm food which is offered for about 300 families (see photo top). On Saturdays, warm food is offered to more than one hundred old age pensioners.

The Comedor Zaqueo in Plaça Mercadal is offering breakfast to some 150 homeless, and evening meals to 300 hungry souls (see photo bottom). Demand for food and shelter is on the increase; the Associación Zaqueo is also offering a bed to over 5,000 homeless residents every year.

Mallorca is not just all sun and sea and chill-out parties. Some find the going quite tough. Perhaps you can spare a thought.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 27th, 2012. The time was 10:37:15. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and Zaqueo.

Muchas gracias.

Feeding the Starved

Coca de Albaricoques

I know, I have left this a bit late as we now are at the tail end of the apricot season but, still. You must try one of the delights of Mallorcan pastry marvels, the Coca de Albaricoques before the Summer is over. This pastry is one of the most common traditional Mallorcan sweets and is usually made with fresh apricots. As the apricot season is no longer than ten weeks, fresh apricots can also be frozen to be used for the Coca de Albaricoques later in the year. Don’t use the dried variety.

Here is what you need to make and bake a Coca de Albaricoques: 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of sugar, 4 eggs, 250 gr white flower, 1/2 package of baking powder, 10 or 12 apricots. If you want to do the Coca de Albaricoques the authentic way, you would also include small pieces of Sobrassada but, you would be forgiven if you didn’t.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 24th, 2012. The time was 11:26:51. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of riquisimas-recetas.blogspot.com.es.

Muchas gracias.

Coca de Albaricoques

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume

The Festes de Sant Jaume are celebrated every year on July 25th. Sant Jaume is the same as San Jaime in Spain and Santiago or Santo Xacobeo in Galícia. In Mallorca, the saint is acclaimed in pueblos such as Alcúdia, Algaïda, Binissalem, Calvià, Portocolom, Santanyí and Sa Pobla. In most of these places, festivities start a week or so before the saint’s day and they might conclude a few days after.

Last night, the town of Santanyí celebrated the end of its Festes de Sant Jaume with an act called Tic-Tac which was dedicated to the young population of the municipality, starting at 23h00. At the stroke of midnight, Sant Jaume‘s celebrations were concluded with everybody present eating 12 olives to the strokes of the church bells.

The custom dates back a few hundred years when everyone in Mallorca ate 12 olives at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Olives were a staple food here on the island, as they still are to this day. The customary 12 grapes at midnight had not cottoned on here as it had in mainland Spain or as it has now.

To my knowledge no other pueblo in Mallorca upholds the old tradition of eating 12 olives, neither at the occasion of New Year’s Eve nor at Sant Jaume‘s. Should you happen to know better, please let me know.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 28th, 2012. The time was 18:33:28.

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume

Promoting Breastfeeding

I can’t say that I go to Santa Ponça a lot. Had I known what was going on at the beach of Santa Ponça the day before yesterday, I would have gone there for sure.

A few dozen women nursed their babies during a promotion day for breastfeeding held by the Associacio Balear d’Alletament Matern (ABAM) in Santa Ponça (see photo). As I wasn’t there I had to borrow a photo of the event from the Internet. I hope L’Agence France-Press or the photographer won’t sue me. If they do and I have to go to jail, would you come and visit me?

Just to make it plain and clear: I would not have gone to Santa Ponça because I am a geek, a voyeur or a dirty old man. I am all that but, no, I would have gone because I would always support and help promote the cause of natural breastfeeding. Our three children were all breastfed, I myself was nursed the way nature has provided for as well and so should every living being on this planet. I am sad and disturbed to see so many young mothers here in Mallorca bottle-feed their babies as young as perhaps two months or less. A lot of them smoke as well whilst they nurse, bottle-nurse that is, their brood. I can’t get my head around it. Do we really want to live in a plastic world? No wonder our politicians act like morons most of the time; they were probably all bottle-fed.

Just in case you don’t go to Santa Ponça all that much either: a national (or international) breastfeeding day will be held on October 2nd this year, with a communal breastfeeding being held in Parc de la Mar, right by the Cathedral.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of lapatilla.com and the photographer, Jaime Reina/AFP Photo.

Thank you very much,

muchas gracias and

merci beaucoup.

Promoting Breastfeeding

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

Melting Down the Saïm

Cooking and baking in Mallorca would be inconceivable without Saïm (Castellano: Manteca, Lard), just as cooking would be without olive oil.

Saïm is pig fat in both its rendered and non-rendered forms, melted down for lard. Saïm is commonly used in Mallorca’s traditional cuisine as a cooking fat or as a spread similar to butter. It is probably best known for its use in Ensaïmadas, Empanadas or Emputidos, but is equally used in a variety of dishes such as Graixeras, Asados or simply, fried eggs. If you have not had your eggs fried in Saïm, give it a try. You may decide that this is the only way to have your fried eggs. You can buy Saïm in small containers at your local supermarket. I find that a better quality is usually sold by your local butchers.

Saïm rojo (red lard) is probably known to a lesser extent amongst the non-native community. Red lard is gained from decanting instead of melting. Saïm rojo is used for Botifarrons or Camaiots.

Bon profit.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 1st, 2009. The time was 17:40:52.

Melting Down the Saïm

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