On Menorca, two languages are spoken: Castilian (which is the normal Spanish), and Catalan. I learnt that Catalan is really a complete different language, not just a dialect. It's hard to tell what is the main language on the island, as there had been quite some see-saw, over the time one or the other language was repressed. But the original language is Catalan with a local dialect called Menorquí. I was told that the newspaper has articles in both languages, so there's quite some mixture.
We saw many signs in Catalan and could see that it's having quite different words than Spanish, for example "platja" (and not "playa", the Spanish word for beach) or "camí" (instead of "camino" for a path).
Siesta is normally from around 13:00 - 17:30 dependent on the shop.so it your going to the larger places like Mahon or Ciutadella either morning or Evening is best,also they have markets at Ciutadella on Fridays.
Fridays and Saturdays Mahon til lunchtime.
Ciutadella has the hippie markets every night summertime in Ciutadella on the approach alleys to the marina,well worth a visit.
Due its long and varied history, food in Menorca has many influences. There are traditional recipes from medieval times, with a touch of both Catalan and Arabic influences. Later the British settlement influenced other dishes.
Menorca's sea food is renowned. If budget is not an issue, try one of its famous "caldereta" (lobster stew, especially famous the ones of the town of Fornells)
There are other many popular dishes as baked cuttlefish, squid stuffed with sweet potatoes, oven-baked fish, boiled snails with aromatic herbs, etc. If you're not into fish and seafood, baked lamb is also rather popular, or stuffed courgettes or red peppers.
Probably the most well-know product of Menorca is its cheese, "Queso de Mahón / Formatge de Maó". You can enjoy it "as it is", but its used in many recipes as well.
And don't forget that Maó is said to be the cradle of one of the most popular sauces worldwide: salsa mahonesa (mayonnaise, mayo sauce)
Menorca's capital, Mahon, is famous for its gin. The Menorcans learnt how to make it from the British, and they produce a few varieties - the most well-known being Xoriguer. This is easily available across the island, and makes a good gift for someone back home.
My favourite Menorcan tipple is Sangria - a wine, gin and fruit punch that's readily available in most restaurants across Spain. It's refreshing - but usually deceptively strong.
Menorca is a bilingual island - most speak Spanish (Castilian) and a local dialect of Catalan. Catalan is the favoured language - Castilian has traditionally been an imposed language from central government, most notably from General Franco.
Catalan has been restored more recently, and this is obvious from the town and street names.
There were (and still are) many junipers in Menorca. The British army was there too. Logical consequence: they started to make gin! ;)
However, Menorcan gin is not the same as British gin, as it made with liquor from grapes (not from cereal). Kind of strange mix between British and Mediterranean traditions, but still very popular.
Especially during the summer festivities, the most popular drink of the island is called "pomada": local gin and lemon drink. Be careful, it's too easy to drink too much of it in a hot day!
There’s really not much going on for vegetarians in Menorca; at least nothing particularly Spanish. In most places you can find Italian restaurants, so if you want a pizza or pasta dish you’ll be ok. Even when we go to Greece we have Italian now and then, but primarily we eat Greek. I guess the Spanish, and in particular Menorcan’s just don’t embrace vegetarian food in the same way. Most tapas menus had at most one or two dishes (you should be looking for four, I’d say) and there was a great abundance of fish restaurants. An overabundance I’d say. Whatever happened to “variety is the spice of life”?
Even the much vaunted Menorcan vegetable stew “tumbet”, which we had been looking forward to, always seemed to have meat in it. Thank goodness the phrase “sin carne o con carne?” was always understood!
Mahon is well known for its gin and has a distillery there that you can visit (though we didn't). At Festa time it is popular to have the gin mixed with lemonade, and this is called a pomada. Most bars seem to have a machine that dispenses this "ready made".
There seem to be a fair few places on Menorca where clothing is, how shall we put it, optional. This tends to be restricted to the beaches and bays that are not major tourist resorts, but that in itself makes for a lot of beaches! We lost count of the number of naked people we saw, most often men, and most often not bothered about flashing it about a bit. It's not something that bothers us at all, but some people might be affronted by it, so be warned.
The picture is from Cala Mitjana.
Horses play the leading role in all popular fiestas in Menorca. We were lucky enough to see the “Jaleo” in Ferreries, and by chance we ended just in the middle of the square. It was so beautiful and dramatic: impressive horses and their riders, dressed in mainly black and white and decorated with ribbons, embroidery and multi-coloured carnations. This ritual that has its origins in the beginning of the 14th century. They play spectacular and dangerous games, only for very experienced riders. They consist of three trials of equestrian skills: "Ensortilla", which is a test of equilibrium and aim; " rompre ses carotes", which is a jousting test between two riders and finally a more dangerous test in which two horses set off on a gallop together, with their riders arm in arm.
Do not miss one of these if you have the chance, the calendar for the popular fiestas is as follows:
- June 23rd and 24th: Sant Joan in Ciutadella.
- End of July: Es Mercadal, Fornells and Es Castell.
- August, almost every weekend: Es Migjorn Gran, Llucmaçanes, Alaior, Sant Climent, Ferreries (24th and 25th , Sant Bartomeu) and Sant Lluís.
- September 8th and 9th, Mare de Déu de Gràcia in Maó.
Typical local festivity in Ciutadella 24th June and 25th July in Es Castell
It represents a symbolic fight between nobility and populace inhabitant.. these must fall down the horseman from his horse.
its a little bit dangerous if you are in the influence area of horses oubviously.. so be careful.. and also there always are alot of people!!