Pa amb Oli in Mallorca, the most famous dish;
Pa amb Oli or Bread with Oil, we can´t speak about Mallorca without mentioning the most famous and further developed dish in our Island, “pa amb oli”, which translated into English would means literally “bread and oil“. If the Dry Martini is the world’s most famous cocktail, “pa amb oli” is the same in Mallorca, big words, part of the Gastronomy in Mallorca, a pleasure to taste.
“Pa amb oli” is a classic in Mallorcan cuisine, a tradition that comes from our ancestors, whose recipe was first documented in the eighteenth century by the Mallorcan friar Jaume Josep Bernat Martí i Oliver, which has become the dish further developed in Mallorca. Indeed the “pa amb oli” is just one slice of bread with oil in its origins, but it has evolved so that there are many variants and ingredients that can be added if you want to enjoy one of the biggest and simple delicious dishes from Mallorcan gastronomy.
Crowd of experts agree that “pa amb oli” recipe was nothing more than a resource for using the bread surplus that formerly was baked once a week and that in its last days was a bit dry, the only reason for using tomato and oil in order to make it palatable.
There are many different ingredients used when preparing “pa amb oli” today, but the basis remains the same than before, that is, good bread, “ramallet” tomato, oil and salt although throughout history have been adding more things as the market has evolved Island like capers, rock samphire, butifarrón, camaiot, pickles, Mallorcan olives, cheeses and other sausages also from our Island, even a lot of people is preparing “pa amb oli” accompanied by seasonal fruits such as figs, prickly pears, grapes…mmm…wonderful combination. And is good for “sobrassada” lovers.
“Ramallet Tomato” (Lycopersicon Esculentum originally introduced by the Spanish in Europe in 1540) is a local variety of tomato that is collected in summer and remains hooked and hung in clusters throughout the year. Is an autochthonous variant of Mallorca because soil characteristics, smaller size, with a slightly salty and bitter taste than rest of standard tomato marketed in Europe, more hard and with dry skin allowing it to endure even 9 months prior to consumption and with a high degree of inner pulp. Are planted in April and harvested from July to mid-August. Once collected begins the spinning work that means to pass by the tomato head a not too thick cord, remaining as a bunch of tomatoes. Once finished sprinkled with sulfur to be kept until next year. They hang in a cool and ventilated place. Formerly instead of spinning them with cord this job was done with olive shoots.
Right away I´m going to introduce some types of “pa amb oli” so you can enjoy this delicacy so famous on the Island that you can´t leave Mallorca without trying.
This is a classic simple one, bread spread with “ramallet tomato” and garlic. Is a brown bread and can be accompanied with tender onions, green peppers and of course a glass of good wine. If you like garlic taste is better to spread it before the tomato.
“Pa amb oli” spread with “ramallet tomato”, green and black Mallorca olives, you chilies in vinegar, green pepper, a good Mallorcan olive oil that never lack when preparing these wonders and some sweet onions. You can add capers or pickled to taste, like rock samphire (Crithmum Maritimum), very autochthonous product.
Perhaps one of my favorites, “pa amb oli” with roasted pepper salad. Good roasted red peppers and sprinkled with a little garlic, parsley, seasoned with salt, pepper, oil and a mini splash of white vinegar. Exquisite!…Although that is one of my favorite does not mean it’s the best, everyone has different tastes.
“Pa amb oli” with “trampó”, the most typical summer salad in Mallorca, spring onion, green pepper, better if is the white-green pepper from Mallorca are tender and tasty, tomato, also sprinkled with oil, salt, pepper and a little garlic if your taste, all cut tiny. Trampó, as summer salad is exceptional, but this will be a different article.
This is perhaps the most common “pa amb oli”, with “camaiot” or cheese, good cheese from the island or a good scrubbing camaiot with tomato and a good olive “Delicacy of the Gods”. In many Mallorcan houses never fails camaiot and sobrassada.
“Pa amb oli” is becoming more international as people is adding more things when preparing it, like Iberian ham or jamón ibérico with cheese and i think this is the most known and popular for its ingredients, great, very tasty.
I hope you have taken the decision to try our “pa amb oli” during your stay in our island and even hope that you can prepare it yourselves according to your tastes as it is not a complicated recipe and you will understand why is part of our history and our lives, many of our dinners or lunches would not have sense without it.
Preparation time: what it takes to put the ingredients.
Difficulty: very low
INGREDIENTS FOR A GOOD “PA AMB OLI” (4 people): brown country bread that you can find in local bakeries, extra virgin olive oil from Mallorca, 4 “ramallet tomatoes” found in any market in Mallorca, Mallorcan cheese, processed meat called embutidos in Spain, Mallorcan olives, rock samphire, tender onions (sautèed) and salt.
Cut into slices (not to thin) the brown bread and place on a plate, two slices per person depending on the size and hunger we have, spread the “ramallet tomato” well to remove all the pulp and left it over bread, put salt to taste and olive oil, which will help the salt and tomato to penetrate into the bread. I usually put a lot of oil to make bread very wet but this is up to you.
Cut into thin slices cheese as much as you want and camaiot or other processed meat that we will use and harmoniously get them positioned above the bread slices. It should accompanied by olives, rock samphire, spring onions sliced lengthwise using better the whiter part and all the accompaniments that we have chosen.
Before you spread “ramallet tomato” into bread slices is better to cut a little bit the bread so both, tomato, salt and oil will penetrate better into the bread, which then will be more tasty.
If you like garlic, you can spread it on the bread, it is delicious, even if it’s better with toast bread because of better garlic scrub.
Note that I have described a very basic recipe but there are many types of ingredients that accompany it, simply decide what you would like most and enjoy.
Please, don´t try such exquisite dish of Mallorca without a good glass of red wine.
By the way, if you want to read about Bread and Oil have a look at the book Volem Pa Amb Oli, written in Catalan by Tomás Graves, the youngest son of Robert Graves and is also available in English.
You can enjoy more recipes from Mallorca here.