Throughout its turbulent history, Menorca has come into contact with a variety of different cultures. Within the culinary sphere, this legacy is reflected by a complete range of dishes which combines such disparate cuisines such as the Arab, Catalan, British and French cuisines.
Menorcan cheese is increasingly becoming the indisputable protagonist of the island's cuisine. Although documentation exists which cites cheese making in Menorca during the fifth century, it is only in the seventeenth century that the explanation for its name appears. Cheese began to be called Mahon cheese when military authorities decided to include the port of origin on exports. Thus, the cheese takes its name from the capital, although the product was and is made all over the island. The denomination of origin was changed to Mahon-Menorca cheese in May 2001 to correct that inaccuracy.
In restaurants, Caldereta de Langosta (lobster stew), without a doubt the most famous of all Menorcan dishes, shares the menu with dishes such as stuffed squid, oliagua soup with figs, meatballs in almond sauce, stuffed aubergines and marrows, loin of pork with cabbage, lamb and pork sausages, as well as sobrasada (blood and paprika sausages) and butifarrons (blood sausages).
The high quality of local products must be added to the evident wealth of this cuisine. Whether fish or shellfish, meats or vegetables, superb quality prime material is ensured.
Furthermore, Menorca boasts a range of pastries prepared in traditional fashion from ancient recipes. Almonds, honey, chocolate and cheese are some of the elements used to create a wide assortment of sweet cakes. Amargs (almond and pine-nut cakes) and crespells (hard dough biscuits), greixeres (fresh cheese cake) and cuscussó (a Christmas dessert with almonds, honey, cinnamon and semolina), buñuelos (light drops of fried dough) and ensaimadas (soft, spiral-shaped brioches) are only some of the irresistible temptations that await us.
Lastly, there is the island's unforgettable gin, a legacy from the British, and its most famous factory, Xoriguer Gin, located in the port of Mahon. Made in stills by the complete distillation of juniper berries and natural wine alcohols, this drink can be taken straight or mixed with fizzy lemonade, a combination highly prized by the Menorcans.