In the dim dining room of a local monetary, I’m speaking with Antonio Garcia Madrid. He is 64 years old, from Pollensa, and one of many who take to the woods every fall in search of the island’s setas silvestres. I have asked him about his annual practice and the most common Mallorcan mushrooms. Now in autumn they are a popular side dish.
An old Mallorcan Tradition
Over a lunch of his homemade cabrita frita, I first quiz him on this annual practice. I want to know when the foraging starts, where the best spots are to find them and also what types are the most common. Like the guiri that I am I’m all questions. The answers come slowly and in sayings. ‘What kind of dishes are the most typical with local mushrooms?’ – ‘Pues, lo normal’, he assures me. ‘Es que, no es algo tan especial’. To him, my questions seem silly. What’s all the fuss about, he seems to be asking.
To me, a city-born former New York dweller, it is ‘tan especial’. This local knowledge of the land, passed from generation to generation, is just the kind of thing that charms me about the island. Just 30 minutes from Palma’s international fast-food chains, Mallorcan locals, young and old, are still practicing foraging traditions today that date back centuries.
Come the first rains, Antonio tells me, you’ll find wild Mallorcan mushrooms tucked away in the woods of the Tramuntana, in the skirt of pine trees or under fallen logs. Hunts tend to be family affairs and the tell-tale signs are passed from generation to generation. To those who live here it’s common knowledge where to find them but as an outsider you’d be hard pressed to find out. Tell someone your spots, Antonio explains, and maybe next year they’ll get there before you.
Mallorcan Mushrooms – An Index
The Balearics are home to more than 100 varieties of edible mushrooms. These are some of the most popular:
- Lactarius sanguifluus (en: bleeding milk cap or red pine mushroom, cat: l’esclata-sang, pinetell or rovelló)
- Lactarius deliciosus (en: saffron milk cap, cat: rovelló)
- Helvella crispa (en: white saddle, elfin saddle or common helvel, cat: l’orella de llebre blanca, orella de rata blanca or orella de gat blanca)
- Craterellus cornucopioides (en: horn of plenty, black chanterelle or black trumpet, cat: trompeta de la mort)
- Ramaria aurea (cat: peu de rata)
- Pleurotus ostreatus (en: oyster mushroom, cat: girgola)
- Cantharellus subpruinosus (cat: picornell, cama-seca or rossinyol)
Mushroom Fair in Mancor de la Vall
While some secrets are not shared, the bounty certainly is. Each year in November Mancor de la Vall hosts a three-day festival celebrating the Esclata-Sang mushroom. Already featured in Roman frescos, this sought-after variety has been employed in Mediterranean food for thousands of years. At the fair, you’ll find stalls overflowing with them, gathered and grown at local farms. In typical form, this tiny Mallorcan village turns into a boom town during the three-day fiesta, complete with street food, live music and also traditional dancing.
Mallorcan Mushroom Dishes at Maria Salinas
Sample local preparations of the season’s bounty along Calle Major in Mancor de la Vall. Our favorite spot is Maria Salinas, an elegant and contemporary eatery in a historic Mallorcan townhouse. Salinas’ award-winning cooking blends old and new, with an eye towards locally sourced ingredients. She often includes Mallorcan mushrooms in her dishes as well. Try, for example, grilled wild mushrooms with mojama and a garlic merengue. Heavenly! Call ahead for reservations, as it’s always booked!
Maria Salinas Restaurant
+34 667 958 204
Five plate tasting menu changes seasonally, 35 Euro
Open Wednesday – Saturday 19:30 – 21:00
Sundays, brunch 8:30 – 12:00, dinner 19:30 – 21:00
Photos by Cristina Ortega
Written by Bridget Dooley & David Garcia Sanchez
Bridget Dooley is a multimedia content creator with a passion for telling stories of local food production in a globalised world. She currently studies Journalism and Globalization studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. For questions or content collaborations contact [email protected] or find her on Instagram @sol.bakery.