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Whether cod in garlic oil, meatballs in tomato sauce, cream cheese with Ibérico ham or fried squid rings - tapas are hearty snacks that are eaten at any time of the day in Mallorca.

Tapas: the heart of Mallorcan culinary culture
Tapas belong to Mallorca as much as the sea, the sun and the beach. These delicious appetisers were first brought to Mallorca from Catalonia but are an integral part of the restaurant and bar culture of the island. Sadly, the bulk of package tourists on half-board or all-inclusive packages, usually don’t get the opportunity to experience this key part of the culture. Tapas are eaten regardless of the time of day. These ‘snacks’ have gone way beyond the original of keeping the pangs of hunger at bay and have become the national dish all over Spain. Mediterranean people tend to eat much later, and tapas are eaten to keep people going until dinner at around 9pm and then later in the evening tapas bars fill up again until late into the night when locals meet after dark and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with savoury delicacies.

Tapas Mallorca restaurant

Mallorca's tapas bars
At 1 pm, the first tapas bars in Mallorca open their doors for the guests. They soon start to fill up and soon most tables are occupied. Over the decades, the island has developed its own tapas culture. Pine nuts, almonds and olives play a much bigger role as ingredients than in the tapas bars on mainland Spain. Mallorca as an island has the Mediterranean on all sides and this is reflected in all areas of its cuisine. Vegetables are more prominent than on the mainland and frying is less widespread although without exception, cooking is done with olive oil. Use of fat is looked down on by the owners of tapas bars.

Fresh ingredients
You cannot beat Mallorca's tapas bars for fresh ingredients. The first point of contact for restaurateurs from Palma and the surrounding area is the Mercat de l'Olivar in the centre of the island's capital. Chefs pick up all their ingredients that they need for their tapas creations in the huge market hall. Mussels, prawns, lobsters and freshly caught fish tend to dominate the stalls although the delicatessen and vegetable sections are filled with peppers, olives, aubergines, goat's cheese and dates line up in the delicatessen. Ibérico ham, fresh tomatoes and garlic cloves complete the list of all the local delicacies. Tapas can be made from any ingredient as most chefs are true artists and like to surprise their guests with new, creative flavours.

Highlights of Mallorcan tapas
The range of tapas is huge in Mallorca and just looking at the display in a bar is enough to make your mouth water. Meatballs in tomato sauce, potatoes in garlic mayonnaise and grilled squid rings are among the staples. Homemade cream cheese with Ibérico ham and mushrooms in hearty Roquefort sauce are among the more unusual creations as is foie gras with caramelised pumpkin served on toasted baguette. Tapas is about quality rather than quantity and these slices of baguette are barely larger than than a 2-euro piece. That's a good thing, because you will need room to try some of the other dishes on offer. No tapas display is complete without Pimientos de Padrón. These small green peppers are heated in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. These salty peppers build up a thirst that is best quashed with a refreshing cerveza.