Menorca, a Mediterranean island sitting between Europe and Africa, has a culture that has been influenced by the many different nationalities and cultures that have fought for control of this strategic piece of land over the centuries. The constant influx of new cultures is evident everywhere – including in the island’s cuisine. Even today, the latest, peaceful “occupation force” - tens of thousands of British holiday makers - have left their mark on the island’s food – fish & chips, gin & tonic to name but two. |
But, if you’re planning a holiday in Menorca, might we suggest that you try some of the more traditional Menorcan food? Much of it is based on fresh Mediterranean produce, fabulous fresh fish and amazing combinations of spices and herbs.
Fact or Fiction?
According to legend, mayonnaise was born in the small Menorcan town of Mao. When the Duke of Richelieu conquered the city, his chef was ordered to prepare a celebration dinner. When he realised that the sauce was a disaster, he “whipped up” an olive oil and egg concoction similar to one used in the town. It was such a success that they named it ‘mayonnaise’, in honour of the town - and the rest is history.
Just to give you a taster, here are some of the amazing dishes you can expect to find in restaurants and hotels during your stay.
For your first course, try this refreshing soup that has its foundations way back in time in peasant farmer traditions, when simple, nourishing food using readily available ingredients was the rule.
Fresh vegetables such as onions, peppers, tomatoes and almost anything else that is in season is gently sautéed and then, after adding herbs and water, is boiled into a light, refreshing and nourishing soup. Oliaigu is usually served cold as a summer dish (when most Brits take a holiday in Menorca), with bread and fresh figs on the side.
Caldereta de Langosta (Or: Lobster Stew)
Perhaps the most famous of all Menorca traditional dishes, this appetising stew starts off with a “sofrito” base – onions, fresh tomatoes and peppers, garlic, paprika and other herbs are gently fried in rich, local olive oil.
In fact, sofrito forms the foundation of many traditional Spanish dishes and can be found in many different local variations.
When the sofrito is ready, the lobster is added along with water, and it’s slowly boiled until the lobster meat is tender and succulent. The stew is delicious! Make sure you have plenty of bread to mop up the mouth-watering sofrito - it’s so good you won’t want to waste a drop.
No holiday in Menorca would be complete without trying one (or more!) of the island’s amazing desserts.
A great favorite with visitors is the Crema Catalana, which is similar to the French crème brûlée. It’s a very rich and totally decadent dessert that can be found, in many variations, throughout the Balearic Islands and Catalonia on the Spanish mainland.
Egg yolks, milk and sugar are gently heated and stirred until a thick, rich custard develops. Orange, lemon and cinnamon are added to further intensify the flavour. The custard is served as an individual portion and, just before it reaches the table, a thin layer of brown sugar is sprinkled over the top and heated with a kitchen blow torch to produce a crunchy, caramel topping.
Experience Menorca to the full
After trying these great dishes, you’ll most probably want to try making them yourself! If you rent one of the many self-catering Menorcan villas found all across the island, you won’t have to wait until you get home.
Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. Personally selecting the finest properties for her clients, Brenda is the go-to person for anyone planning a relaxing holiday in Menorca. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.
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