Operation Sunshine and Sangria: Eating in Mallorca

Read, eat, travel.

But not necessarily in that order. And sometimes all at once.

Our trip to Mallorca was motivated largely by the need for sunshine and tasty things. In fact, the whole jaunt was dubbed ‘Operation Sunshine and Sangria,’ and earned itself its own hashtag on Instagram. But we didn’t only drink our way through Palma – we ate our way through as well. Here are some of the favorites from the week.


Paella (pah-eh-yah; rice casserole) Once upon a time, I cooked this for my parents. When I told them what was for dinner, neither of them were very excited about it. But once they tried it, they were over the moon – my dad especially. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish, and it’s a take on good old fashioned casserole. Vegetables and either meat or seafood (sometimes both) are tossed into a skillet and cooked for a bit, then rice and water are added. It’s covered and the rice is allowed to cook, and then the waiter plops the whole steaming skillet down in front of you with a couple of lemon wedges and a double helping of napkins. A typical paella will run between €6 and €12, and one is enough for one person for dinner.

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Tapas (tah-pahs; small plates) If you’re only slightly peckish and/or are on a budget, then tapas are for you, my friend. Tapas are small tasting plates of different traditional Spanish foods, from sausages to shrimp to veggies to fried calamari to bread. You can order either one plate at a time, just to have something to munch while you sip your sangria, or you can go up to the counter in the deli and pick which dishes you want on one big plate to share. Tapas run about €2 per plate or €6 to €10 for a large plate. Pro tip: go around the corner from the main avenues to find cheaper – but just as tasty – tapas! Spaniards love their tapas, and you’ll never have to go far to find something good.

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Sangria (sahn-gree-uh; wine with fruit) Between Blake Shelton’s song and numerous happy hours at Mexican joints around the US, most people will already know this one. However, as someone who has had sangria in Spain, I can honestly say that most places in the US don’t do it quite right. Sangria is made with a dark red wine, a bit of cane sugar, and fruit such as oranges, pineapple, and pears. This drink dates all the way back to the Romans, who added fruit to their excess vats of wine to cut the vinegary taste that wine past its sell-date has, in the hopes that they could still peddle it for a tidy sum. Today, good wine is used in the preparation, but it’s still an excellent afternoon pick-me-up in the blistering Mediterranean climate. A glass will typically set you back €3 to €5. Pro tip: Try the tinto de verano (teen-toh deh ver-ah-no) in the summer time for a seasonal take on sangria!

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Gato d’Ametlla (gah-toh dah-met-ya; almond cake) This one is unique to Mallorca. We were wandering around one morning, and stopped in a cafe for a mid-morning pick-me-up (as you can probably tell, I like to have a lot of pick-me-ups). We ordered coffees, and asked for a type of cake my friend had had in Madrid. We were told that cake was only made in winter, but that they had a traditional Mallorcan cake freshly made. As a matter of principle, my friend and I never turn down cake, so naturally we ordered a slice of this one.  Gato d’ametlla is a surprisingly fluffy coffee cake made from eggs, sugar, and almonds. It’s perfectly sweet with a delicate almond flavor, which makes it a perfect pairing with the espresso that the Mediterranean is so well known for. A slice in a cafe costs between €2 and €3 (plus coffee).

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