Minorca cuisine


Lobster stew (Menorca)

This exquisite lobster is queen of the sea in the Balearics. It belongs to the species of European lobsters, known scientifically as Homarus Gammarus, and comes to the rocky coasts to feed on small animals, such as small cuttlefish, mussels or sea urchins. It can grow up to 50 cm long and its shell is reddish or lilac-coloured, with spines to defend it. It is caught the traditional way, with baskets placed like traps on the sea bed and its weight ranges from 400 to 600 grams. This crustacean is protected in the Balearic Islands and can only be caught from the 1st March to the 31st August. During this time, it is forbidden to catch specimens which have not yet reached 19 cm.

Lobster is the basis for this delicious stew which can be eaten in most of the seafood restaurants which exist along the coast. It is similar to a French fish stew called Bouillabaisse. Many of the restaurants keep their lobsters on display in large fish tanks and clients can choose the one they like most for their dish. In order to know if the lobsters are fresh, they should be lifted up by their front antennae to see if they move their tail energetically. If they don't, they are not recommendable.

The caldereta de langosta of Fornells

Any spot along the Balearic coast can be recommended, although there is one place which stands out above the rest. This is Fornells, in the north of Minorca. Here in this small, charming fishing village, they prepare the lobster stew which is most famous among the 'gourmets', one of whom is King Juan Carlos, who has even said that it is his favourite dish. In fact, on more than one occasion during his holiday visits to the Islands, he takes the opportunity of enjoying this delicacy in one of the few but special restaurants in the bay, some of them with a terraza or outside terrace overlooking the sea and fantastic views.

There are few things which can beat a tasty evening meal in such a romantic spot, making one want to stay there forever. Fornells provides both things. Its lobster stew is supreme and its scenery idyllic.

Fornells is a place which is well worth visiting. As well as its caldereta de langosta, nature lovers, surfers and sailing enthusiasts will really enjoy themselves here. From the Torre de Fornells (Fornells Tower), built by the English in 1802 at the entrance to the bay, you can enjoy an unequalled panoramic view of the open sea and cliffs, and can even see as far as the headland called Cap de Cavalleria, which has been declared an area of special interest. There you can find Minorca's first open-air museum, with archaeological remains dating from different periods.

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Menorcan-Style Stuffed Aubergines (Menorca)


  • Aubergines
  • Onions
  • Green pepper
  • Garlic
  • Tomato
  • Eggs
  • Bread crumbs
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Parsley


Cut the aubergines in half and boil. Sauté the rest of the ingredients at the same time. When the aubergines have boiled, remove the pulp and combine with the sautéed ingredients. Place the mixture back in the skins and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake until golden brown.

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Gin Xoriguer, the most popular Minorcan gin (Menorca)

Gin Xoriguer is the Minorcan gin which originated during the times of the British rule in the 18th Century. During that period, thousands of English sailors and soldiers arrived on Minorca to garrison the island who, in their time off in the taverns, ordered the fashionable drink at that time, gin. This liquor was unknown on the island, although some artisans soon devised the way to produce it importing juniper berries and making it with water and plant-based ethyl alcohol.

An heir to this local tradition was Miquel Pons Justo, who created the famous Gin Xoriguer at the beginning of the 20th Century. Its curious bottle, with the image of the family's old windmill, has become a real symbol of the island. The distilleries are in the Port de Maó and can be visited from Monday to Saturday.

'Pellofa' and 'Pomada', two variants

The process begins in the old copper stills, into which they put the high quality wine alcohol, together with the select juniper berries from the mountains and other aromatic herbs. The result of the distillation is this gin, which is then stored in large oak barrels before being bottled.

It can be drunk neat, although it is traditionally accompanied. The most popular and most widely consumed combinations are the so-called 'pellofa', with the addition of a dash of soda and lemon peel, and the 'pomada', with lemonade. Both variants are also sold bottled.

In the Gin Xoriguer installations you can sample these products, made in the same way as those first artisans made them.

The Gin Xoriguer distilleries are in Andana de Ponent, 91. 07701 Maó.
Tel.: +(34) 971 362 197. Fax: +(34) 971 354 559.
E-mail: xoriguer@cconline.es

Visiting times are Mondays to Fridays, from 8 am to 7 pm and Saturdays, from 9 am to 1pm.

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Malmsey or the 'wine of kings' (Menorca)

In Mallorca, malmsey wine was considered the wine of kings, because it was in great demand by the European courts. This wine, which comes from a type of grape originating in Greece, was also one of the favourite wines of the English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.

Due to the intense commercial activity of the Greeks, malmsey rapidly spread all around the Mediterranean area: Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, the Canary Islands... and the Balearic Islands. In Menorca, the production was concentrated in two municipal districts: Alaior and Sant Lluis.

The initiative, begun two years ago by the Wine Company of Menorca, has meant a come-back of this type of grape for the island. The vine-growing activity is carried out in Sa Cúdia Nova, an estate which lies within the Natural Park of s'Albufera des Grau, the central area of the Biosphere Reserve. The area has many advantages, as being a wet area it does not need irrigation.

It is also an example of the feasibility of projects which combine economic exploitation with respect for the environment. In fact, last year it was awarded a prize by the Institut de Desenvolupament Industrial (Industrial Development Institute) for being a sustainable estate.

Fifteen thousand vines from Corsica

Up to now fifteen thousand vines have been planted over an area of four hectares, although the aim is to occupy between another four and six hectares. The vines come from Corsica, an island with a climate and soil which is very similar to that of Menorca.

The first results of this harvest will be seen in 2005, the year in which it is expected that around eight thousand bottles of high quality dry white wine will be brought out onto the market and, if it passes the controls, it will carry the designation of Vi de la Terra de Menorca (Wine of Menorcan Land).

The initiative has found support on the island and after this experience, there are several people who have acquired plantation rights. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginnings of a local Menorcan wine.

The Wine Company of Menorca is located in Sa Cúdia Nova, within the Natural Park of s'Albufera des Grau and very close to the city of Maó.

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Herbes and Palo (Illes Balears)

The Majorcan and Ibizan herbes (herbal liqueurs), although of different flavours, are made from a base of different herbs which in some cases, include more than 30 different kinds. Fennel, rosemary, leaves of the orange and lemon tree, camomile and lemon balm are left to macerate during several months and the resulting concentrate is mixed, in small portions, with sweet anise, in order to produce the herbes dolces (sweet), and with dry anise for herbes seques (dry), with a higher alcohol content.

Traditionally, these herbes are regarded as digestive and are drunk after eating. They can be drunk cold, with ice, or natural. They are also delicious accompanied with orange or lemonade, although this is not very common on the islands.

A remedy against malaria
Palo is an exquisite liqueur which originated in the 16th and 17th Centuries, when there was a lot of swampland in Majorca and the mosquitoes spread the terrible disease of malaria. To combat it, they used two plants, quina calisaia (cinchona) and genciana (gentian) which they conserved by putting them in alcohol to stop them from fermenting. They also added sugar to take away the bitter taste. The largest production is concentrated in Majorca, although it is also produced in Eivissa.

Over the years, the production of palo has undergone modifications, and today it is made with burnt sugar, the secret of this liqueur. According to the connoisseurs, all palos are made with the same basic ingredients, but no two taste the same.

Unlike herbes, palo is drunk as an aperitif before meals. It can be drunk neat, with ice, or with soda, the most popular way on the islands.

There are several factories on Majorca and Eivissa dedicated to the production of these liqueurs, made according to the local tradition handed down from their ancestors.

http://Destilerías Morey
http://Destilerías Antonio Nadal
http://Herbes Tunel
http://Destilerías J. Perelló
http://Destilerías Marí Mayans
http://Destilerías Dos Perellons

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Menorcan Liqueurs (Menorca)


Herbes is one of Menorca's stellar liqueurs and there are a number of types, depending on the plants used, one of the most popular of which is made with chamomile, which can be found in all the island.

Mandarin, Orange, Peach and Lemon Liqueurs

A rich variety of liqueurs made from the essence of several fruits that will leave a good taste in your mouth.


A mild drink with a unique taste and texture.


An artisan drink elaborated according to traditional island formulas, which combines herbs, anis, cinnamon, wine and saffron in a warm infusion.

Warming the drink is a ritual and it can also be enjoyed on ice. Tradition has it that this drink has been prepared since antiquity, when the island was famous for its wines, and country matrons ('madones') used to prepare a Calent-based drink to give to their friends on holidays and especially at Christmastime.

It is also a custom for bars in some areas of Menorca to present their clients with today's Calent on Christmas Eve morning.


One of the Menorca's most characteristic liqueurs is gin made from grapes and perfumed with juniper berries. The Gin Xoriguer distillery has been making this drink according to traditional methods for almost a century.

Liqueur Manufacturers

XORIGUER. Moll de Ponent, Port de Maó. +34 971 362 197
BINI ARBOLLA. C/ Maó, 60. Alaior. +34 971 372 118

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Frígola, thyme liqueur (Illes Balears)

Frígola is a wild herb liqueur that features one essential ingredient: thyme (frígola or farigola in Catalan). Homemade frígola, which varies according to each family's tastes and recipes, uses 4 litres of brandy, 250 grams of thyme leaves and flowers, 2 litres of distilled water and 1,200 grams of sugar.

The brandy must be distilled with the thyme leaves and flowers (which makes approximately two litres of liqueur) and the sugar is melted in the water, which is mixed, strained and kept in bottles to macerate.

In June and July, it is common to see immense fields of thyme in bloom in Formentera and Ibiza, purple or white flowers according to variety. An ancient tradition holds that this plant should be gathered bright and early on Midsummer's Day.

Frígola is part and parcel of Pitiusan cuisine and culture and very popular in Ibiza and Formentera with or without ice as a magnificent accompaniment to its original desserts or as a digestive after meals.

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Rose liqueur (Menorca)

The British ruled Minorca in the eighteenth century and the thousands of sailors and soldiers who passed through wanted their favourite drink & gin, which is how Minorcan artisans came to produce their version, famous to our day.

Families from Greece settled in Minorca during the same period to work in the salt flats, shipyards and in trade and brought with them another liqueur, which is usually enjoyed at christenings nowadays: rose liqueur, a very aromatic delicacy with a surprising taste.

Nowadays, the proliferation of liqueurs in specialised shops has virtually eliminated the need for homemade versions, yet rose liqueur is particularly easy to prepare and good results are guaranteed.


50 g rose petals
500 ml orange blossom water
20 g Ceylon cinnamon 
2 g cloves 
2 litres 90º vinic alcohol 
1 litre simple syrup

Mix the alcohol together with the petals, cinnamon and cloves in a wooden, glass or stainless steel container, seal hermetically and macerate for 24 hours. Later, strain the mixture and add the orange blossom water and simple syrup. Shake and let stand 24 hours. Add mineral or distilled water to reduce the alcohol content.

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Menorcan wine cellars: the pleasure of good wine (Menorca)

Like its neighbouring islands, Menorca has an ancient winemaking tradition, although production was interrupted at the end of British rule and on a number of other occasions. In the past few decades, several vineyards have begun to cultivate different varieties of grapes and opened wine cellars, revitalising an old trade with renewed vigour.

At present, there are four wineries with their corresponding vineyards on the island: Vine Sa Cudía in S'Albufera des Grau Nature Park, Viñas Binifadet near the village of Sant Lluís, Ferrer de Muntpalau in the town of Es Mercadal and the newly inaugurated Bodega Vi de S'Illa in Alaior, all of which offer wine tasting as well as guided visits around the wine cellars and vineyards.

After years of dedication, the island now has an Illa de Menorca regional wine denomination that includes white varieties such as Chardonnay, Macabeo, Malvasía, Moscatel, Parellada and Moll, and red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell, Syrah and Tempranillo.

Further information at www.illesbalearsqualitat.com

Wines and Wineries, Experience the Mediterranean (Brochure Pdf 11,4Mb)

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Wine (Illes Balears)

Cutting-edge techniques are combined with ancestral traditions to produce top-quality wines that boast a number of protected denominations of origin and have won the highest honours at international fairs and competitions. An excellent accompaniment to sampling the island's cuisine and a unique way to take the aromas and flavours of our land away with you in bottles.


Wines and Wineries, Experience the Mediterranean (Brochure Pdf 11,4Mb)

The Wine Express Train
A little road train tours us throug wineries, vineyards including wine tasting

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Flaó and Greixonera (Illes Balears)

Flaó is a round cake made with eggs and soft cheese which forms part of the island's gastronomic tradition. In the past it was prepared for Easter, in a wood-burning oven and left to rest in the pantry. Today it is possible to eat this popular dessert at any time of year, made the traditional way by some bakeries or produced industrially.

The ingredients for the pastry are: equal amounts of plain flour, water and oil, a little lard, a small amount of anisette liqueur and matafaluga (anise seeds or Pimpinella anisum). For the filling you need: eggs (one for every 100 g of flour), the same amount of sugar and soft sheep's cheese or sheep and goat's cheese, as well as some mint leaves.

The preparation is easy. The pastry mix, which has a rather thick consistency, is put into a mould or flaonera, in a thin layer. All the ingredients for the filling are mixed together in a bowl and poured over the pastry. This is baked at a moderate temperature for 30 to 40 minutes and, once cool, it is sprinkled with a layer of caster sugar. It is usually eaten along with a glass of frígola (a digestive liqueur made with thyme) or sweet wine.

A way to use up the ensaimadas from the day before
Greixonera is another of the recommended desserts from Ibiza. It can be described as a cinnamon-flavoured pudding with an exquisite flavour. Traditionally, it was a recipe for using up the ensaimadas from the day before. To prepare it, apart from the ensaimadas, you need eggs (eight, for the same number of ensaimadas), one litre of milk, 300 g of sugar, one lemon, cinnamon, and butter.

These ingredients are mixed together and put in a greixonera, a flat earthenware dish. It is cooked in the oven at a moderate temperature for half an hour. Before turning it out, it should be left to cool down; then, ground cinnamon is sprinkled on top and you are ready to savour this exquisite delicacy!

There are some bakeries in Ibiza which make flaó andgreixonera the traditional way. These dishes appear on the dessert list in practically all the restaurants.

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Pastissets (Menorca)

The ingredients used to make Pastissets are:

400 gr flour
200 gr sugar
200 gr pork lard
2 egg yolks
Lemon peel, cinnamon or ground vanilla can be added if desired.
Finely ground almonds
Glazed sugar

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Carquinyols (Menorca)

Carquinyols are made with sugar, almonds, eggs, leavening, cinnamon and lemon essence.

Two other types are whole-wheat carquinyols, made with sugar and whole wheat, and chocolate carquinyols, made with hazelnuts and chocolates.

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Panellets (Illes Balears)

Each on November 1, All Saints? Day, families meet to render homage to their ancestors by visiting the cemetery, adorning their gravestones with flowers and eating the sweets typically served on this solemn occasion.

Panellets are a type of pastry made with almonds, sugar and eggs that are very popular around All Saints? Day. The dough is a marzipan that comes in many different shapes and flavours to which different dried fruits are added. Although the origin of this sweet is unknown, it is thought to be inherited from the Arabs, who were found of using almonds combined with sugar, honey and spices in desserts.

The truth is that thanks to the simple recipe, many families make these panellets at home nowadays. The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients for the dough base:

500 g raw almonds, crushed very fine 
500 g sugar 
250 g potatoes 
Grated lemon peel

Egg, pine nuts, crushed almonds, dipping chocolate and shredded coconut.


Wash and boil potatoes without peeling in well-salted water. Peel and mash until obtaining a dry purée. Once cold, add the sugar, almonds and lemon peel and mix well with a fork until uniform. Set aside to rest.

Pine nut panellets: make balls out of the dough and dip them in slightly beaten egg. Roll in pine nuts, place on an oven tray and brush with egg yolk.

Almond panellets: Prepare like pine nut panellets, but use crushed almonds instead.

Chocolate panellets: Shape pieces of dough and placed on an oven tray. Dip in chocolate after baking.

Coconut panellets: prepare the same dough as almond panellets, but use shredded coconuts instead of almonds.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180º for 15/20 minutes.

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Rubiols (Illes Balears)

Rubiols are tasty, sweet, crescent-shaped pastry filled with any number of different ingredients and are widely-known and popular for dessert, a snack or breakfast.

The similarity to the dough used in panades is one reason the two specialities are prepared at the same time at home during Easter Week. Each family has its favourite recipe and the following is just one of many different kinds. Homemade apricot jam, cabello de angel (a pumpkin and sugar syrup concoction) or curd cheese are traditionally used for the filling, although there are those who prefer cream, chocolate or other types of jams.

450 gr melted lard
2 small glasses of water
1 small glass of sunflower oil
1 small glass of anis
5 egg yolks
A pinch of fresh yeast
5 T sugar
1 kg flour (approximately)

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the water and then quickly add the other liquid ingredients, mixing well. Add the flour little by little until obtaining a homogenous paste. Break off a ball and roll it out with a rolling pin until obtaining an oval-shaped sheet of dough that is not very thick. Place a spoonful of the desired filling on it and fold and seal the dough well at both ends so that the filling does not leak out during baking. Trim the leftover edges of the pastry to make a half moon approximately 15 cm in length. Bake at 180º C until golden, sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat when cool. Bon profit!

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Mayonnaise, the sauce which the Duke of Richelieu yearned for (Menorca)

The history of mayonnaise begins in 1756, although some historians point out that it was already present in Menorcan cooking in the 16th Century. It was in this year that the Duke of Richelieu, the nephew of the famous cardinal, seized control of Maó snatching the sovereignty from the English.

There are various versions as to the circumstances which surround the time and the way in which the Duke, who was to become Marshall, tasted the famous sauce. Some say that after the conquest, Richelieu offered a great banquet to celebrate the victory. His campaign chef tried to prepare a sauce with cream and eggs but when he realised that it was not turning out right, he decided to resort to mixing olive oil and eggs as he had seen them do on the island. It was a great success and they called the sauce Mahonnaise, in memory of Maó.

According to the historian Mascaró Pasarius, however, it was an innkeeper from Maó who served an improvised sauce made of eggs and olive oil to the Duke of Richelieu, general in charge of the disembarking forces. The aristocrat was so pleased that when he returned to France, he incorporated into the cuisine of his country.

Gift from a Menorcan lover

Another of the theories attributes the discovery of this sauce to the Duke¿s occasional lover, a distinguished Menorcan lady who gave him gifts of this sauce on their furtive encounters. The result is the same as in the earlier mentioned cases, although according to this version the name which Richelieu promised to give this exquisite sauce was due to the fact that this lady was a mahonesa (lady from Maó).

Mayonnaise, as it is now known, is an emulsion of two elements which are very difficult to combine; olive oil and egg. Only if they are vigorously mixed together, with a mixer or by hand, can this delicious sauce be attained, for which the Duke of Richelieu yearned. The way he discovered it and spread it later to his country making it famous all over the world will continue to feed numerous fantasies.

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Tàperes, an essential ingredient in the gastronomy of the Illes (Illes Balears)

The caper is neither a fruit nor a seed, but rather the bud of a plant which is known on the island as the taparera. Its scientific name is Capparis spinosa, and it is classified as a shrub with various annual cycles which dries up in the winter, leaving only a long deep root with few ramifications.

Harvesting capers has always been one of the most arduous tasks in the Mallorcan countryside. It is a shrub and its flowers grow at ground level, which means the picker has to work bending down in the hot season, between June and September.

Traditionally this work was done by the women, who would get up at daybreak to begin their day's work. Like this, the buds can be pulled off while they are still hard from the night and the risk of being pricked by the thorns which surround the leaves is reduced.

Multiple uses in cooking

Once picked, the capers can be kept in vinegar following a simple process and are ready to be eaten as an accompaniment, in the preparation of sauces, or as an ingredient in elaborated dishes.

If they are allowed to grow, the buds give rise to a thick flower with four white-coloured petals. The fruit of this is the taperot, which can also be pickled in vinegar although they are not so commercially widespread. The same is true of the leaves of the tapareres, exquisite for decorating some dishes.

Now it is hoped to promote this product and to increase its production. For the moment, the capers can already been found in delicatessen shops in many parts of the world.

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Maó cheese (Menorca)

Maó cheese is made with cow's milk, unlike majorcan cheese which uses goat's milk. Its began to take off in the 18th Century, during the british occupation, thanks to the increase in cattle breeding, mainly friesian cows, and to the large production of milk which was obtained. It was held in such high esteem that an english engineer even said that 'the italians prefer menorcan cheese to their own parmesan'.

At present most of the production is industrial, although this cheese is still made the traditional way using the old methods. To do this, the milk is curdled using herbs, wrapped in a very fine white cloth and moulded into shape by hand until it becomes compact.

Maó cheese comes in several varieties depending on the maturation process, with different aromas and flavours. The maturing period of the mild cheese (queso tierno) fluctuates between 21 and 60 days. It is a yellowish colour, with an aroma which reminds one of butter and has a slightly acidic flavour.

Exquisite complement for pa amb oli (bread with olive oil)

The semi-mature variety (semi-curado) matures for two to five months. It is an orange colour, although if it is prepared the traditional way it acquires a brown colour. It is firm, easy to cut and is the most well known of all the cheeses.

If the maturing period is longer, the cheese is known as mature cheese (queso curado), much harder and with a more intense flavour. It is also made preserved in olive oil, giving rise to an exquisite product. There are several companies on the island which specialise in making cheese.

Eating pa amb oli (bread with olive oil) together with any of these varieties is a real delicacy. This is very easy to prepare: a slice of rye bread is rubbed with a clove of garlic, and then rubbed with a soft tomato, if possible de ramallet (tomatoes strung up to dry), some olive oil is dribbled over this, a little salt is added, and lastly, the cheese. The most authentic way is to accompany this dish with crushed black or green olives.

There are many establishments in Menorca where you can buy maó cheese. Some of them can be found in the Mercat d'Es Claustre (Es Claustre market) in Maó.

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Panades (Illes Balears)

Preparing panades at Easter is a very popular tradition that brings family and friends together in the kitchen for a festive day with a very tasty result: panadas, which are made out of savory or sweet dough (the latter is prepared adding a little sugar and orange juice) and filled with peas, meat (or fish) or a combination of both main ingredients, according to taste.

Each family adapts the recipe to suit their own tastes, but the following recipe can be followed as a general guideline:

1 kg flour 
250 cc melted lard
250 cc water 
Sal t

2 Kg lamb (leg)
Black pepper
Olive oil
Peas and onion (optional)


Allow the lamb, diced in one-centimetre cubes, to marinate in the olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika to taste overnight. Cut the pancetta in cubes measuring ½ centimetre or less.

Mix all the ingredients together for the dough except for the flour, which will be added little by little until obtaining a homogenous mass. Break off a piece to make a bowl shape 10 cm in diameter at the base with walls 3-4 cm thick. Fill to taste with meat, a few pieces of pancetta and sobrassada. If peas are used, sauté lightly with the onion and add salt and pepper. Afterwards, break off another small portion of the dough, roll out thin and add as a cover. Pinch the pieces of dough together tightly, while shaping the border as you like. Bake at 180º until the pastry is golden (30-40) and eat when cool. Bon profit!

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Balearic cuisine also celebrates Carnival (Illes Balears)

When it's Carnival time on the islands, one of their most emblematic sweets dons holiday garb. Typically, Enseïmades de tallades used to go on sale on Dijous Llarder (the Thursday before Lent, one week before Ash Wednesday), although nowadays they can be found all year round in some bakeries and pastry shops. Enseïmades de tallades are made of bits of sobrassada, or blood sausage, and butternut squash added to the traditional or plain enseïmada base. The two ingredients provide a sweet and salty contrast which is highly appreciated in island cuisine and also add dashes of green and red colours to the white, uncooked dough, which curiously coincides with the colours in siurells, primitive hand-made figurines that are typical of the Balearics.

Other dishes or specialities linked to these holidays are:

-Greixonera de porc: This is a kind of pudding based on pig's feet, face and tongue. After adding half an onion, two laurel leaves, clove, a cinnamon stick and half a teaspoon of nutmeg to the mixture, it is boiled in a generous amount of water in a pressure cooker for 80 minutes, ground up afterwards and left to cool. Then eggs, a small glass of milk, a pinch of nutmeg, chopped garlic, a pinch of marjoram, salt and pepper are added. The mixture is then poured into a bowl-like clay pot, or greixonera in Catalan, and baked until golden.

-Coca de raïssons: this is a dough made out of flour, eggs, oil and sugar that is topped with pork rinds.

-Cocas de xulla (salt pork): this also made on flat dough with bits of sobrassada and butifarró, two of the islands' typical sausages.

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