Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dancing with demons

One thing that has always appealed to me about traveling is the chance of you being in the right place, at the right time, and seeing something absolutely amazing that generally only locals get to see. Last night I was lucky enough to have an invitation to dine in the streets of Binissalem with a small group of expats to celebrate the end of the Binissalem Wine Festival, and it was one of the most amazing nights out I have ever had whilst traveling!

The entire village is closed off to traffic - even the locals have to ensure their cars are off the streets and out of the way - and everyone lines their streets with tables and chairs that they decorate with grapes, figs, cheeses, meats, and flowers.

In every street you can smell the traditional mutton fideua (noodle) soup simmering away in preparation for the hundreds of people who will emerge to eat, drink, and laugh together throughout the evening. Whilst anyone can come along to Binissalem to witness the feast and the ensuing pagan festivities, you can only dine by invitation, which was why I was so unbelievably lucky not only to be in Mallorca at this time of year, but also to have a friend of a friend to issue me with an invite to this traditional Mallorcan feast.

Dessert is another traditional Mallorcan dish - ensaimada - which is a warm, sweet bread cake, fashioned into a coil. Ensaimadas can be made plain, with cream, or with a custard filling (which ours was), and it is absolutely divine. My only regret for the evening was that I ate too much fideua and couldn't fit in a second slice of ensaimada!

Dinner carried through from around 8pm until nearly midnight, after which we retired back to Ruth and Martin's beautiful house for a glass of Baileys and an espresso to keep us going until the pagan demons came out at 1:30am!

With sleepy full-belly eyes successfully re-opened, we wandered around the village for a bit, stopping in to listen to some musicians playing at another house, until it was time to head to the village square.

Hundreds of people were already crowding around the "zone of fire" and the atmosphere was charged with excitement and anticipation! Then the lights went out, fires were lit, and a band of demons started drumming whilst a giant she-demon gave birth to a baby demon that later killed her! The she-demon disappeared and a horde of demons exploded out into the zone of fire, tridents blazing, sparks flying, and blood dripping from their tongues!

Those dressed for the occasion (ie wearing protective clothing so that their limbs and hair didn't get burned by the sparks flying everywhere!) swarmed into the zone of fire to dance with the demons to the crazy underworld drum beat. It was completely wild and pagan and brilliant! I couldn't resist!

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