Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, the main islands of the Balearic archipelago, are not only brimming with amazing landscapes, spectacular beaches, and laid-back vibes the Balearic islands offer a wide variety of delicious local dishes. The local gastronomy is the reflection of centuries of tradition that has mostly remained almost intact over time. Let us first go over the most famous dishes and delicacies from the islands:
The Ensaimada from Mallorca
The Ensaimada is the ubiquitous Balearic food. The Ensaimada has been part of the gastronomy of the Balearic Islands for centuries. In fact, there are records that indicate that since the seventeenth century they have been a staple of parties and celebrations on the islands.
It is an iconic sweet baked good made with flour, water, eggs, sugar, sourdough, and lard (or saïm as it is known on the islands), which is where its name comes from (en-saim-ada – roughly translated means made with lard).
The Ensaimada is the nº1 souvenir that tourists pick up as they head back home. The ensaimada is actually protected by the Government of the Balearic Islands, believe it or not.
Another ubiquitous Balearic delicacy. It is a raw cured sausage that contains pork, black pepper, and paprika, which is believed to be originated in Sicily, Italy.
In Sicily there was a sausage-making technique known as “sopressa”, which consisted of mincing the meat until it formed a paste. Maritime trade between Italy and Spain allowed it to reach the Balearic Islands, where its consumption became popular, especially in Mallorca during the 16th century.
There is an official recipe for Balearic sobrasada, but it is very common for families to have their own particular recipe to make it. Regarding the presentations, perhaps the best known is the longaniza, but it can also be consumed in a wide variety of sausage styles.
Caldereta de Langosta (lobster stew)
Not surprisingly, there is a lobster dish on this list. There are few places you can get fresher lobster than the Balearic Islands.
It is a rather modern dish in comparison to the other dishes in this article. La Caldereta showed up at the beginning of the 20th century. It started out, as so many classic dishes, as a workers man dish. Fishermen would get to enjoy a Calderete on a daily basis, and although now it can only be eaten from April to August, the ingredients remain the same.
It is made with a base of tomato sauce, parsley, onion, peppers, and garlic to which water and salt are added, and at the very end, the chopped lobster is added. The original Caldereta originated in the bay of Fornells.
Although the origin of this dish is murky, everything seems to indicate that Mallorcan fried food may have its origin in Sephardic cuisine.
Frito Mallorquin is a symphony of olive-oile fried goodies including meat, potatoes, onion, and pepper, seasoned with bay leaves, cloves, chilli, cinnamon, salt, garlic and pepper. It is one of the emblematic dishes of the gastronomy of the Balearic Islands.
Pastissets of Menorca
These sweet treats are shaped like a flower and are typical of the island of Menorca and used to be taken during Christmas parties and family events.
Today they are found in almost any bakery and are made with non-fermented dough and filled with pumpkin jam. The recipe includes the use of anise, egg and mistela or muscatel.
Brut rice is a tremendously traditional dish from the Islands, almost primitive. There is no one agreed-upon ingredient list, especially because it changes depending on whatever is in season.
Arros Brut is a is a soupy rice dish into which fresh game and garden ingredients are added. It is a dish of rural origins. In general ingredients include vegetables and mushrooms, various types of meats, such as rabbit or hare, pigeon, pork, duck or chicken, as well as various spices (pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon) and sobrasada.
This dish has been on the islands since medieval times. It is a sweet or a salty pocket of dough popular in Mallorca and Menorca.
It is made with are flour, eggs, butter, and oil and typical fillings include cottage cheese and jam, vegetables, stir-fry or fish. It is usually served during the Easter holidays and is one of the traditional aperitifs of the festivals and celebrations.
Mayonaise or Mahonesa in Spanish actually originated on the island of Menorca, specifically in the bay of Mahón (Maho-nesa). During the 7 Years’ War (1750), the French attacked the English fortress of Saint Philip, in the port of Mahón, capital of the island of Menorca.
The operation was executed by the Duke of Richelieu and the attack was carried out by Colonel Rochambeau. To celebrate the huge victory Richelieu held a banquet in his honor. The chef tried to make a cream and egg-based sauce but there was no cream available. He, therefore, made the concoction with olive oil and egg, thus creating a new delicious sauce. In honor of the victory in the port of Mahón, it was called “Mahonnaise”, and later changed to “Mayonnaise” and in Spanish, it remained as Mahonesa.
Another ancient dish common on the islands. The coca dates back to 800 AC. According to food historian Eliana Thibaut i Comalada, the coca was invented to use-up bread dough that had not raised. Instead of discarding this dough, housewives cooked it flat, sweetening it regularly and serving it for dessert.
Cocas nowadays come in both sweet and savory varieties. The savory varieties resemble pizza and are sometimes referred to as Mallorcan pizza.