Pork Talk

Here are just a few reasons why our Mallorcan farming neighbours in the valley are so great:

They often give us fruit and vegetables they’ve grown. On one occasion, while I was out for a walk and passed the finca of Toni and Maria, they came out and presented me with the world’s largest watermelon. So enormous was this magnificent fruit, that I had to carry it up the hill, pressed against my stomach and supported by both arms. By the time I staggered through the gates at home, I had an inkling how it must feel to be heavily pregnant . . .

They’re generous about sharing their knowledge and advice – on occasions, unsolicited. The Boss was once up a ladder, giving our almonds trees a long-overdue pruning – not something of which he’d had a lot of experience. Pedro stopped while driving past our finca to tell him where he was going wrong  . . .

They’re very honest. One day we were talking – in castellano – to a local couple who farm in the valley and sometimes stop for a chat when they’re passing. “You’re like a real Mallorcan now,” Margarita told me. I puffed out my chest in pride – my Spanish was obviously improving.  “Yes,” she reiterated. “Just like a Mallorcan woman!” And with that she patted my tummy . . . a reference to the fact that quite a few Mallorcans carry just a little bit too much weight around the middle. Brutally honest.

They’ve never invited us to a matanza. We’ve been invited into the homes of several Mallorcans for meals and various social occasions, but thankfully we’ve never been invited to a matanza – the slaughter and butchering of the family pig(s). This traditional event, which takes place around this time of year at farms and rural homes all over the island, is one I’d rather not witness, thank you. It’s an occasion for family and friends to gather and join in with the messy business of turning a perky pig into a pantry (or freezer) full of porky products for the coming months. The thought of being elbow deep in a large vat of squidgy pig bits is not for the squeamish . . . and certainly not for me.

It’s for the matanza that our local supermarket has stocked up with the necessary accessories (string, paprika and a white powder that prevents rancidity) for turning Peppa the Pig (don’t let your little ones read this) into Mallorcan delicacies such as llonganissa, botifarró, and sobrassada – a well-hung cured pork product flavoured with a generous quantity of paprika.

Sobrassada is emblematic of the island and adds great flavour when used in cooked dishes. It’s also popular spread thickly on rustic bread but, personally, I’d prefer a well-made crispy bacon sandwich. If only I could find one on Mallorca.

Sobrassada spread on rustic bread – a popular Mallorcan snack

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012

Shop Talk

Manacor, our nearest town on Mallorca, is at the heart of a very traditional agricultural community, which is reflected in what’s offered on menus in many local restaurants, and what’s available in food shops and supermarkets.

Supermarket Sleep

When we first moved here, I really missed the vast range of goods that we’d been able to find in the UK in our local supermarket – where, I confess, most of our weekly shop was done. Back then, we preferred to use our free time – a precious and rare commodity – for activities other than trawling market stalls and individual shops for the next week’s food. The one-stop-shopping culture was so ingrained in me that, just after we moved here, I would often dream about being in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, piling much-missed delicacies and ingredients into my trolley.

Slippering Out to the Shop

Before long I discovered that Mallorca offers a real bounty of fresh produce and interesting local food products, and our shopping habits changed. The fruit and veg market, and shops such as baker’s, butcher’s and fishmongers are where the bulk of our food expenditure now goes.

Manacor still has a host of small independent corner shops, offering popular food necessities, and frequented by locals from the immediate community. I once saw a woman in her dressing gown and slippers, emerging from one of these places – having popped out for a few essentials for her breakfast table.  Now that’s not something you see at Tesco!

There are still things we buy from a chain-owned supermarket, but it’s not as interesting a shopping experience as topping up your trolley in a UK superstore. Our local supermarket rarely changes its displays – not having learnt (unlike their British counterparts) that if you move stuff around regularly, customers might stumble across – and buy – something they didn’t know they needed/wanted, whilst trying to find what they were actually looking for in the first place!

New In!

New products on the shelves of our local supermarket are as rare as our wins on the Once lottery, and I have a kind of inbuilt radar that hones in on the rare new additions to the supermarket’s product range. And it was during our first November here that this radar picked up a rather unusual new display: rolls of red and white string, small bags of white powder (and not a sniffer dog in sight!), and large shiny bags of paprika. Back then, I had no idea why anyone would want to buy such things . . .

November additions to our supermarket range

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012