January ushers in one of the island’s most popular celebrations: Sant Antoni. During this festival, which is deeply rooted in towns like Manacor, Artà and Sa Pobla, lots of activities are organised – bonfires, demon parades, fire runs (correfocs), fireworks and a brilliant atmosphere take over the streets of Mallorca.
On the eve of Sant Antoni (16th January), Mallorcans gather round the fire to roast typical products like sobrasada pate and longaniza and botifarrons sausages, surrounded by the merriment unleashed by the sound of the ximbombes drums and the dance of the demons and caparrots (big-headed sculptures). Everyone takes to the streets on one of the most magical nights of the year.
Recipes with long traditions
Local gastronomy takes on special significance during these celebrations, with recipes such as espinagada, a rectangular pie typical at this time of year. Originally from Sa Pobla, it’s usually filled with vegetables (spinach is often the main ingredient) and eel, pork loin or other recipe variations. The pork option is almost always served with cabbage.
Cooking the espinagada (it’s always a little spicy), starts with making a dough using about half a kilo of pastry flour (use whatever flour is suitable), a glass of water and a glass of oil. The eels (approx. 1kg) used for the stuffing are left to rest overnight, and seasoned with oil, parsley, garlic and types of paprika. The next day, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle and covered with a layer of vegetables, adding the eel mixture and another layer of vegetables. For the vegetable filling, use a bunch of chard, two spring onions, five artichokes, a bunch of spinach, about 100g of peas and spicy paprika. Before baking in the oven (for approx. one hour, the first quarter of an hour at a higher temperature), the pie must be covered, leaving the edges well sealed.
Paprika coca flatbreads (often topped with pork loin) and vegetable cocas (with chard, garlic, parsley and tomato) also feature in the Sant Antoni festivities. It’s a tradition for families to make them in the days before the revetla celebration for Sant Antoni, which is when the tasting begins.
To understand the origins of Sant Antoni, we need to go back to the island’s agricultural past, when the islanders worshipped the patron saint of the animals that were essential in the countryside. Today, the Beneïdes ritual is still celebrated on 17th January (Sant Antoni), to bless the animals. In Palma, there’s a large parade that starts at the Cathedral esplanade and ends in Sant Miquel street.