Minorca. Traditional Balearic crafts.
Traditional craftsmanship in Menorca is still more alive than ever. Traditionally, the artisans of the island have been able to transmit their skills and inspire with their art the taste for the traditional to the new creators.
Some artisans, such as ceramists and jewelers, bring their stamp of author by incorporating new techniques and materials to traditional pieces.
Menorcan artists have been influenced over time by Catalan and Valencian artisans and artists, navigators and merchants in contact with the Italian Renaissance or by the English conquerors. All have agreed to exalt the expressive force of the natural elements of the island.
In the different museums of the island we can find, among many others, artists such as Pascual Calbó, Francesc Hernandez Monjo to the most recent work of the painters Torrent or Vives Llull.
Creativity and craft are also reflected in the footwear sector, which combines avant-garde fashion with artisanal tradition in its designs. Special mention should be made of the covers; popular footwear of peasant origin that are worked in leather and with a tire sole. Still today we can find some artisan who manufactures them to measure.
The masters in the elaboration of the internationally known Menorcan cheese, follow the process of elaboration and maturation transmitted from parents to children. As well as the liquor producers who, without losing their artisanal essence, make delicious fruit and herb liqueurs.
The calm and calm pace of life of the island accompany and often inspire the different Menorcan artisans. We can find endless samples of his art in his own workshops, in the shops of the island and in the numerous stalls that are installed in the open-air craft markets.
Menorca has a long artisan tradition, with a great diversity of trades. The artisans of the island have been able to transmit their skills and knowledge acquired over the years and inspire with their art the taste for craftsmanship, both traditional and contemporary.
The relevance of this sector is manifested in the small workshops that are found throughout the island, the participation of artisans in professional fairs and in local shops.
Guarantee mark "Craftsmanship of Menorca"
The Consell Insular de Menorca has put into operation the guarantee mark "Artesanía de Menorca", with the aim of distinguishing the creative craftsmanship that is made on the island and identifying the professional artisans deserving of representing the craftsmanship of Menorca, based on the quality of their work.
To see a permanent sample of artisan products and to be able to deepen the knowledge of local crafts, it is essential to visit the Artisan Centre of Menorca. The center, which is located in the town of Es Mercadal, aims to be a reference to promote, disseminate and promote crafts and artisan products, has sales, hosts temporary exhibitions, projects audiovisuals and programs various activities.
Gin is the Menorcan gin that has its origin in the times of British domination in the eighteenth century. At that time, thousands of English sailors and soldiers arrived in Menorca to garrison the island that in their hours of rest asked in the taverns for the then fashionable drink, gin. On the island this brandy was not known, although soon some artisans devised the way to produce it by importing juniper berries and making it with water and ethyl alcohol of vegetable origin.
An heir to this artisan tradition was Miquel Pons Justo, who in the early twentieth century created the famous Gin Xoriguer. Its curious bottling, with the image of the old windmill of the family, has become a symbol of the island. The distilleries are located in the port of Maó and can be visited from Monday to Saturday.
Pellofa and Ointment, two variants
The process begins in the ancient copper stills, where the alcohol of the wine, of high quality, is introduced, along with select juniper berries from the mountains and other aromatic herbs. The result of distillation is this gin,which is then stored in large oak barrels before being packaged.
It can be taken alone, although traditionally it is accompanied. The most popular and consumed combinations are the so-called 'pellofa', adding a little siphon and lemon rind; and the 'ointment', with lemonade. Both variants are also sold bottled.
In the facilities of Gin Xoriguer you can make a tasting of these products, made in the way that those first artisans did.
Honey from Menorca
It is a typical product of Menorcan gastronomy that is used mainly in pastries. It is part of many dishes among which the eggplants with honey, the cuscussó and the sobrassada with honey stand out.
The ancient beekeeping artisan tradition led to the introduction in 1885 of mobile hives when this system was still unknown in the Iberian Peninsula.
A single harvest is practiced, between the end of June and the beginning of July.
Maó cheese is made with cow's milk, unlike Mallorcan cheese, in which sheep's milk is used. Its birth was forged in the eighteenth century, during the British occupation, thanks to the promotion of the breeding of cattle, mostly of Friesian breed, and the great production of milk that was obtained. Such was the esteem that was professed to him that an English engineer came to say that 'the Italians prefer the cheese of Menorca to their Parmesan'.
At present most of the production is industrial, although this cheese is still made in an artisanal way using old methods. To do this, the milk is curdled using herbs, wrapped in a very thin white cloth and molded by hand until it is compact.
Maó cheese is presented in several curing modalities, with different aromas and flavors. The ripening period of the tender ranges from 21 to 60 days. It is yellowish in color, with an aroma reminiscent of butter and a slight acidic flavor.
Exquisite complement for a pa amb oli
The semi-cured remains maturing for two to five months. It is orange, although if prepared in the artisanal way it acquires a brown color. It is consistent, easy to cut and the best known of all.
If the curing time is longer, we are already talking about cured cheese, much harder and with an intense flavor. It is also made preserved in olive oil, which gives rise to an exquisite product. On the island there are several companies dedicated to the manufacture of cheese.
Taking a pa amb oli accompanied by any of these varieties is a real delight. Its preparation is simple: a clove of garlic is rubbed on a slice of peasant bread, the same is done with a tomato, if possible ramallet, a stream of olive oil, a little salt and, finally, the cheese is added. The real thing is to accompany the dish with crushed green or black olives.
In Menorca there are many establishments where you can buy Mahon cheese. Some are located in the Mercat d'es Claustre de Maó.
He himself founded in 1905 the family factory that would later produce these chairs. Its diffusion and popularity on the island of Menorca have made it the prototype of the Menorcan chair. Its artisan finishes, and its variant with rocker, make it an appreciated and practical piece of furniture. The Chair Factory of Can Coca Rossa, as the family business based in Ciutadella is known, continues to innovate on this traditional basis to manufacture tables and chairs that thanks to their quality have reached international diffusion.
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