The beloved Mallorquin dish called "Pa amb oli"....
The name itself literally means bread (pa) with (amb) oil (oli). It is very easy to make and has a delicious taste. In households all over the island more pa amb olis are made than any other local dishes which makes it without a doubt the most famous Mallorquin dish.
Its main ingredient is the juicy local tomato - which we recommend you to use Mallorquin grown tomatoes for a better taste.
The Mallorquins were actually eating pa amb oli way before the tomato came to Europe.
It was their morning ritual to eat a slice of Mallorquin bread (often 2 to 3 days old bread, so you can cut it nicely) drizzled in olive oil and served with green olives or black. And we know for sure it was olive oil because in that time other oils such as sunflower or coconut were not available.
After the tomato became a standard ingredient in most households many people started to rub a ripe tomato on the bread before drizzling it with olive oil, but not everyone was doing it. There were still many people who were sticking with the traditional pa amb oli.
Later it became pretty popular with tomato so when ordering the dish in bars/restaurants, the waiter would ask "Rubbed with tomato?". Eventually, it became so widespread that the standard pa amb oli always came served rubbed with tomato.
After the upgrade people were enjoying their slice of bread, rubbed with tomato and drizzled in olive oil, served with olives and a glass of wine but it felt like something was still missing... Maybe some protein to turn it into an actual light meal (or not so light) instead of just a morning-snack. That was easily done by adding some slices of cheese or ham.
After that, Mallorquins were always asking a ''pa amb oli'' with... Once you have the pa amb oli itself, the possibilities of what you could add on it were endless. It could be different types of meats or vegetables if you want a vegetarian version of it.
The tomato you use on pa amb oli is of most importance and it should be the RAMELLET variety which originates from Mallorca and with its soft pulpy flesh it is the best among other tomato varieties. For oil, you should use extra virgen oil. They are quite expensive compared to other olive oils but the taste will be worth it.
Some people think that the classic pa amb oli is rubbed with garlic also but since garlic is not part of the original tradition, we like to say that it's just a personal quirk/preference.
For extra virgen olive oils, there are plenty of good ones on a small delicatessen shop called Son Vivot and is located in Plaza de Espana. If you are feeling extra eco-friendly and local you can buy from the olive oil fair which takes place in November. And for bread you need Mallorquin "pan moreno" and for that we recommend a family-run bakery that is located in the center of Palma and is called Forn de la Gloria. This bakery is also the oldest one in Palma which means they have lots of experience in traditional Mallorquin bread.
If you like this blog about pa amb oli and you feel inspired to make your own at home you can check out the recipe on our Facebook page at Enjoy Mallorca.
And if you feel like enjoying one on a terrace at a nice and local restaurant/cafe we recommend Bar Cabrera in Palma. It has a nice terrace outside and they make tasty and traditional pa amb oli.