Of all the Balearic Islands, Minorca is the one that best preserves its identity, thanks to the love that the Minorcans feel for their land and to the sustainable tourism that thrives in the island. The local food reflects these circumstances.
Aside from Mayonnaise, that was invented in Mahon, Minorca has three big products: fish, cheese and sloe gin. The quality of Minorcan fish and lobsters is unmatchable, specially in caldereta or with rice, (famous in Fornells), it's unsurpassable, and will delight the most demanding palates. As well as these stars, Minorca can fancy of the "oliaga", a exclusive soup of the island. Other typical recipes are: "rabbit pixotera", "beef's bonet", "beef's trunyera" or "partritges a la menorquina".
Cheese from Mahon
Cheese from Mahon, with Designation of Origin, is the most representative island product. This cheese is made with cow milk and it has a square shape with rounded corners, due to the cloth that wraps it tight to facilitate the dripping of curdled milk. When it is finished, it is greased with oil or butter to ensure its preservation. This cheese can be sold fresh or semi-cured, but also aged, which has quite a strong flavour and delicious smell.
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.
Minorca's gin tradition began as a consequence of the presence of the British Navy at its ports in the 18th century. Minorca's gin was a whole new spirit that bore almost no resemblance to Spanish or Mediterranean liqueurs, being also different from the original gin. Yet, it had something from all of them and it was described as a cross between gin and Minorca's own Mediterranean spirits. At present this special gin is consumed by itself, or mixed with lemonade, a cocktail known as pomada.
They have "de la tierra wines" identified with the register of Minorca, designation of origin. They're wines elaborated with some white varieties, Chardonnay, macabeo, malvasy, Moscatel, Parellada and Moll, and with red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell, Syrah and Tempranillo. It is said that many years ago there used to be a great wine-producing tradition in the island. However, at present the vineyards are scarce. This does not keep the island from producing good wines, though, like the ones that are protected by the designation of Wines from the Island of Minorca. Rose liqueur, usually consumed at christenings, is another traditional drink that can be tried in Minorca.
Ensaimadas and other delights
A meal is never complete if it is not finished off with one of the splendid local desserts. There are many to choose from: baked cottage cheese is the main milk pudding and another favourite is the "coca de albaricoques" (apricot cakes). But we mustn't forget the very traditional "ensaimadas" (spiral shaped pastries which are officially named Ensaïmadas de Mallorca) which are famous world-wide, or the small sponge cakes called "quartos", "rubiol", "crespell", "flaó" and "gató de almendra".