Gathering fruits in May on Mallorca

May is the month that my father comes to visit from the UK for his spring holiday, so he can celebrate his birthday in company. For the past five years he has also brought his young brother (aged 84!) – my Uncle Ray – and these two widowers enjoy being waited on, relaxing in the warm sunshine, and having a few outings for sightseeing, drinks, and meals out.

My Dad is still pretty fit and often goes for long walks by the sea near his home on the south coast of England. Ray, who had a hip replacement op early last year, walks very little and seems to have lost a bit of confidence in striding out. While he soaked up the sun on our terrace (Ray couldn’t be a more apt name for this sun worshipper), Dad was keen to have the occasional walk around the valley.

A fruity experience

On our last walk we met Llorenzo, a friendly farmer down in the valley, who –  in typically generous fashion – invited us up to his orchard to collect ‘nisperos’ (in the UK we know them as loquats). This fruit – about the size of a small plum – grows in abundance on Mallorca, although it was originally from the Far East. Most ‘nisperos’ fall to the ground unpicked here, because there are only so many of them that you’d want to eat.

We stomped up over bone-dry land to an orchard of trees heavy with the fruits. Dad hadn’t tried them so Llorenzo picked one for each of us to eat as we stood there. Then he plucked a load from the trees and filled our now-sticky hands with the juicy fruits. It’s a wonder we weren’t followed by swarms of wasps as we walked home back up the hill …

How to eat a ‘nispero’

Loquats

Nisperos fresh from the tree

We’ve often seen this fruit on the market in Manacor but haven’t bought them because they often look bruised and a bit ugly. And, frankly, there are so many different fruits to enjoy on Mallorca. But, when ripe, they are quite delicious and juicy – although they have some pretty hefty pips inside. My tip is to peel off the skin first with your fingers and just pop them into your mouth (discreetly spitting the pips out once you’ve eaten the fruit). Plenty of recipes exist for those who have the time and energy to prepare the fruit.

‘Nisperos’ may be messy to eat fresh from the tree but they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. So don’t be put off trying a few if you see them for sale on the market; beauty is more than just appearances!

Footnote: We recently stayed one night at the new Park Hyatt Mallorca, near Canyamel, and found this little pot of locally made (by a German) ‘nispero’ jam on the breakfast buffet.

Delicious jam made from 'nisperos'

Delicious jam made from ‘nisperos’

 

 

 

 

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The rain in Spain …

This May has been a strange month on Mallorca: cooler than usual, and with some rain (which was, admittedly, much needed after an extremely dry winter). We have yet to fire up the BBQ or eat dinner outdoors, but hope this will all change very soon. A few days ago, while looking for something in an old diary, I read that we’d had a high of 31 degrees Celsius on the same date in that year.

My dad, uncle, brother, his three daughters, and one son-in-law are about to descend on Mallorca for a spring holiday. They were due to be our first visitors of the year but, in mid-April, two of my nieces – who suddenly had a free long weekend – put in a last-minute request to come and stay. It was to be a warm-up for their longer holiday, which begins this weekend.

You say warm; we say cool

Living in a different country to the rest of our families, we like to accommodate even short-notice requests, so we happily said yes and hastily prepared our guest quarters. And crossed our fingers for good weather. My nieces were lucky, donning their bikinis for some beach time and even acquiring a little colour as a result of their time in the sun. We, however, were still wearing sweaters and saying it was cool for the time of year.

Early spring is a time when it’s easy to spot the foreigners who live on Mallorca and those who are just visiting. Visitors from northern Europe are flashing their limbs in t-shirts, shorts, and sandals, enjoying the relative balminess of temperatures in the upper teens and lower 20s. Many of us who live here are still wearing sweaters and jeans.

Because of the unsettled weather this May, we are later than we have ever been in setting up our outdoor spaces for the summer.  This morning began with a clear blue sky and pleasantly warm sunshine, so The Boss dragged out his pressure washer (an essential piece of kit, in our opinion), and blitzed the winter muck off all the terraces. We then set up all the outdoor furniture in readiness for BBQs and time to be spent outside … as thunder rumbled in the distance.

And just as we’d finished, this happened …

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