Holy Week (Semana Santa) is an entirely religious festival and, as such, includes getting together as a family around the table as one of the inevitable events. And on an island such as Majorca, there are few families that do not get together over these holidays, whether or not they celebrate the acts and traditions related to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and during which gastronomy and dishes prepared at home with the help of the children and older members of the family take on great importance. Panades, rabiols and crespells are the clearest examples of this type of annual event.
The recipe for panades (small pies) is the same throughout the island, but in no house is it identical. This circular-based pie with salted or sweet dough, according to individual taste, can be filled with lamb, peas, sobrassada (cured Balearic sausage), botifarra (Catalan sausage) and bacon, interchanging the ingredients depending on the area, town, family or even the cook within the household. In some places, the meat is also swapped for fish, normally smooth hound. To distinguish between the different variations, the seal of the lid differs according to the filling.
This is always a sweet pie in the shape of a half moon, and it is a children’s favorite. The filling can be cottage cheese, fruit jelly (normally quince and apricot) or cabell d’àngel jam. Although, recently, the changes in cooking techniques and the tastes of the little ones have led to chocolate or whipped cream centers.
The children will also jump at the chance to make crespells, as they are cookies with different shapes, depending on the molds owned by the family. The dough is the same as that used to make robiols but there is no filling.
Frit de Pàsqua
Another traditional Holy Week dish is frit de Pàsqua, a stir-fry of peppers, lamb innards, blood, potato, peas, chili pepper and fennel, to which ingredients can be added or removed depending on the town or personal tastes. Basically, it is about celebrating the end of Lent with a good meat dish.
In the town of Alcúdia, in the north of the island, godparents traditionally give their godchildren a rotlo on the Thursday of Holy Week. This dessert is wheel-shaped and is decorated with colored candy.
The savory version of robiols, with a vegetable filling, are called cocarrois. Traditionally, they were prepared after the harvest of the sweet onion, but in recent times they have made their way into the cookbook for any time of year. The filling is spinach, raisins and pine nuts, or onion, chard, cabbage, cauliflower and a final touch of camallot (cured sausage) or botifarra.
To savor them: The best place to savor these island delights is in local homes, but visitors can also buy them in the bakeries, known as forns in Majorcan, of all the towns on the island. This is true for all the dishes except the frit, which is best sampled in a typical celler (traditional Majorcan restaurant).
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