Adapted from my article for Quench student mag
After months of reminiscing of beach days and gorgeous holiday food, my opportunity finally came with a perfectly timed trip to Mallorca. Daydreams of paella and tapas would soon become a reality as I soak up the gorgeous Mallorcan sun whilst sipping on a glass of sangria. However, my family are really into their cooking, so I had not been short changed when it came to consistently stunning meals and this begged the question; do you really need to visit these places to be able to indulge in the foreign culinary experience? My mum’s paella is nothing short of mouth-watering and my brother’s ability to whip up a few tapas dishes is unrivalled. Will the Mallorcan food be worth the price tag? In light of this profound question, my holiday goal was swiftly hit with a reverse from relaxation, to work. I was forced to sample as much of the local cuisine as I possibly could… in the name of journalism.
It didn’t take me long to realise how good the food was in Port Andratx. I had been craving fresh fish and the plentiful supply did not disappoint. Delectable sea bass, turbot, scallops and mussels were in abundance and the taste was divine. After spending months in a land locked county, the island paradise proves the importance of the Mediterranean coastline when it comes to the pescatarian experience. I absolutely love fish so this was one point to Mallorca and nil to home cooking.
The tapas experience was equally exciting. Although I can create my own patatas bravas and locate a Padron pepper, it does not compare to the grandeur of a tapas metre filled with tiny bites of loveliness. Furthermore, the food combinations were unique and paid a compliment to the abilities of a truly talented Spanish chef. Perhaps I won’t be able to satisfy my pallet with my botch jobs anymore… On the other hand, although we had beautiful tapas in Port Andratx, a lesser, more disappointing experience was had at a more touristy hotspot in Palma. The quality of the food was incomparable and, after indulging in so many great meals, a real low point in my foodie journey. I was then faced with questions concerning the whole concept of eating abroad. Overall, I don’t believe one bad experience should taint the whole holiday or be grouped together with all the other amazing meals. The beautiful tapas metre we had was good enough to pardon the Palma tapas and I would be reluctant to give this point to home cooking. The moral of the story would simply be: read a few reviews before you rush into the closest restaurant.
After three weeks of solid and thorough research, the most obvious benefit and win to the entire experience of eating abroad was, the atmosphere. The waves of fresh, salty air as it rolled in from the sea coupled with the vibrant bustle of a carefree town felt so unique after spending months isolated in my sleepy, landlocked town. The novelty of eating your lunch with an ice-cold beer whilst facing the sea would be difficult to turn down; the sound of the water splashing against the rocks and the gentle cry of seagulls whilst you eat is definitely a defining holiday moment.
Equally, if you’re a true sunbird like me, those reliable rays and the ability to consistently eat outside during all waking hours of the day is irreplaceable. Although it’s true that you can enjoy a nice seaside meal in England, the unreliable weather forces you to plan your meal inside, away from the views and relaxing ambiance. You may get lucky on the odd occasion and get the opportunity to eat al fresco, but this often comes paired with a thick jumper, a strong wind, or even a brief downpour. The ability to eat outside in the warmth allows you to immerse yourself with a whole hoard of sociable benefits. You can witness hundreds of happy, smiling faces as they make their way along the streets in preparation for their meal as you comfortably indulge in your own. The solidarity created between diners from several different restaurants all eating in the same square or along the same street is unbeatable, especially for those who love to people watch.
Equally, the benefits of such a multi-cultural destination become readily apparent in this environment as you listen to the waiting staff switch between languages as they accommodate different tables. This level of diversity and easy adjustment is completely absent in British dining and adds a whole new dimension to the restaurant experience. I love to feel connected to the world around me, so this factor really puts the icing on the cake for me. Another point for Mallorca.
The question was; is it worth it? The answer? Absolutely. Yes, home cooking can be amazing, but when it comes to the whole experience, there are so many more factors to consider. The atmosphere and cultural benefits absolutely sold me, but the quality and freshness of the food was too good to compare. Will you catch me on the next plane back out there? Without a doubt!!