Liquid gold: cultural heritage and a passion for tradition
The Consell d’Eivissa and PIMEEF have organised the festival autumn food event Ibiza Sabor 2019, now in its 13th year, which focuses on the promotion of the island’s products. It runs from 31 October to 5 December and offers the possibility of trying gourmet set menus for €25, which can be accompanied by wines from the island (price not included), and tapas for €7, with a glass of local wine included.
Ibizans over the age of 70 will recall that their childhoods in autumn and winter were accompanied by the flavour and heat of oil, and the festival of the matanzas, or annual pig killing. This was the time of year when the old olive mills went into action -known as trulls in the local Ibizan language – and after a long day’s work at the mill, just a few litres would emerge. This is why from October to December the artisanal process of olive oil production is repeated between 8 and 10 times, that is, almost weekly.
Although these days were filled with hard work, they were happy times as this liquid gold was an essential foodstuff, used for the rest of the year. Children also sought out the heat, thanks to an enormous pot of boiling water on the go. Although they knew that they could not play in the trull for fear of accidents, they could watch the oil production process, and it was an integral part of their life experience. Some recall that when they were adults and they had to leave the island to study or work, they missed two things, their family and the taste of oil.
Today, Ibiza is one of the few places in Spain that has kept some of those old trulls, authentic monuments to the island’s past and customs in the old country houses. Some still make oil every year using the traditional methods. This is unusual, as nowhere else in the rest of Spain can this phenomenon still be found. The elderly especially, find a visit to an old trull that is still in operation a particularly emotive experience, because they recall the customs, aromas and tastes of their childhood.
The island is about to celebrate an historic event, because this year’s 2019 harvest will be the first time that Ibiza’s oil will be certified with the geographically protected label oli d’Eivissa /Ibizan oil. This means that the production stages of this crop, from milling and crushing to bottling, are all carried out on the island, seeking the highest quality standards. Ibiza’s liquid gold is today one of the best emblems of the landscape, the culture, the history, tradition, quality and flavour of Ibiza.
Recollections and flavours of Ibiza
In Ibiza, autumn and winter seasons have always been associated with the flavour and heat of oil, and the festival of the matanzas, or annual pig killing. This was the time when the ancient oil mills were still a presence in many houses, and family members were invited to take part in killing the family pig.
The island’s families lived isolated lives and so every home had to provide its own supplies and essential foodstuffs. Olive oil, sobrasada and botifarró sausage were essential components of their diet, and were found in the store cupboards and pantries of every home; along with home-made bread, almonds, dried figs, herb liqueur and locally produced wine.
The passage of time and the modern era have not stopped many Ibizan families from continuing to celebrate the festival of the matanzas. They no longer use their old ovens to make bread, or get together to bottle their wine. The difference today is that these practices have evolved, and now magnificent local wines are produced (recognised in some cases with international awards) which can be savoured and enjoyed in restaurants or during a visit to the wineries.
Sobrasada, olive oil, traditional herbs, almonds, different preparations of carob or local honey provide mementoes and tastes of Ibiza that you can take home in your luggage.
A trip to Ibiza may also include tasting one of its legendary rice dishes, arroz a banda – with seafood -, matanzas with locally produced pork, paella, or gerret (picarel) and cauliflower, and many more culinary specialities. Of course, other options include a grilled fish platter or a bullit de peix, fish stew, not forgetting the sofrit pages, the festival and holiday dish par excellence, made with free range lamb, farm reared chicken, patató, sobrasada and botifarró sausage.
These dishes are etched in the memory, the living legacy of the local fishermen and grandmothers’ cooking. Another symbol of Ibiza and its people is the flaó, a medieval recipe which has endured to the present day, and which cannot be found anywhere else. A dessert with a long history that maintains intact the flavours of cheese and mint, and which continues to be the star feature of family celebrations, and creative versions of which are served in many local restaurants.
The cuisine of Ibiza and its products are a testament to history and to the future, as the country people have passed on their heritage to a new generation of farmers, who strive to recover and produce traditional varieties which are authentic culinary treasures, such as citró de matances (local paprika) potatoes, and all manner of different fruits and vegetables.
Discover the flavour of Ibiza: cultural heritage and a passion for tradition.