I have often wondered why, when a country's inhabitants move and start to recreate their cuisine abroad, they think they have to make the food a lot sweeter than it was when it was "at home". I have noticed it especially with Chinese and Indian restaurants in the US, Norway and now here in Mallorca. No matter if the chef is a native of the country or someone from somewhere else who has learnt the noble art of cooking foreign and exotic food, in goes the sugar by the carload.
I was thinking about that the other day when my friend S was kind enough to invite me to lunch, and in a place well within the radius of my new 8 minute rule (spending the next few months checking out ALL the hospitality establishment that are 8 minutes' walk from my place or less), namely Mercat 1930 Palma Gastronomic Market. It is an intriguing-looking place on the Passeig Maritimo which I have often passed on dog walks, wanting to try it out. So here we were among the seven different categories of food: Andalusian Specialities, Croquettes and Battered, Iberian Sausages, Tapas, Sweet Stuff, Healthy Food and Drinks and Thai Innovative. Spoilt for choice indeed!
The Market has been there since 1910 but has of course been gentrified and hipsterified - most of the tables are high and perch-y which isn't my favourite but is the way of the world now. The further away from the floor, the healthier and more gluten-free it is, seems to be the philosophy. Having said that, it's far better than sitting folded up with stomach squashed together on a sofa.
Anyway, my friend chose Thai, which I of course love. Who doesn't? We both had Corn Fritters, and they were better than anything I have tasted in Thailand or Hong Kong. Succulent! Beautiful! With a slight crunch! And beautifully presented. And the sauce looked so beautiful. Yes looked.
But the taste was - hot, good, but also sickeningly sweet. I know, the sauce Thai cooking uses for for example prawn cake is supposed to be sweet - and unfortunately normally comes out of a bottle. But this was something else in the sweet-stakes. It was almost inedible. So we quickly tucked into the main course:
Chicken green curry. It was innovate all right, in that it didn't look like a normal Thai curry, where the ingredients are kind of submerged in the sauce. This was more like cold chicken slivers and aubergine resting on a vaguely green curry-tasting sauce. Beautiful of course, and delicious. And, fortunately, not over-sweet. And they had chopsticks! So, almost full marks for Mercat 1930 for me; I will definitely have especially Corn Fritters again in the future, but with a different sauce/dip. What IS it with this addiction to sugar?
Avinguda de Gabriel Roca 33 (Passeig Maritimo)
669 787 804