Swedish photographer and editor Pär Olsson, is the author of this report which reflects how the Swedish colony not only lives or passes through the traditional neighbourhood of Santa Catalina, but also, for some, it is the chosen place to set-up their businesses.
The Swedes are seasoned travellers and food has become part of the trip and a meaningful experience when we visit another place. The Swedish-owned restaurants abroad are not specifically aimed at their compatriots as they once were. This is evident in Santa Catalina.
“There is a good mix of restaurants in Santa Catalina and we are pleased to be part of it,” says Tove Jacobson, one of the four owners of Balagan, together with Emil Bergman Podeur, the head chef. The restaurant was opened a year ago. Balagan means chaos in Hebrew, as a joke about the team that run it. Tove and Emil come from Helsingborg, Sweden, while Sergi Shevchenco grew up in Ukraine and Bogdan Tataru has his roots in Romania.
To make it more chaotic (balagan), the food does not reflect the origins of the owners, is a blend of the best of Mediterranean cuisine with influences from the cuisines of places such as Lebanon, Greece and Italy.
“The idea of the restaurant is that it is not pretentious and the dishes are designed to be shared with friends,” says Tove. Tove and Emil came to Mallorca almost three years ago. When they met, they both wanted to leave Sweden.
“First it was Berlin and Copenhagen until we remembered that we had a friend with an apartment in Mallorca,” says Tove. Soon after we arrived, in their favourite bar, ETOH on Calle Fabrica, we started to become good friends with the owners Sergi and Bogdan. We became partners in a new business venture just a few months later.
Just a few doors away in the same street, Linea Dagmar Linder and Luis Curti took over as the new owners of the El Perrito a year ago. The couple will be the third generation of Swedes to own the small café located in one of the corners of the market. “The idea is to preserve the beautiful spirit that the previous owners have accumulated over ten years. For example, there is a group of Swedes who still have their crate reserved every Saturday at noon,” says Linea.
Many Swedes visit it when they arrive in Palma as it’s been here for years.
“I love the breakfast and coffee, but we will also be incorporating a bistro serving savoury food in a relaxed environment. That will probably be the biggest change, apart from having painted the premises “, says Linea, who grew up near Stockholm, but has spent her summer holidays in Mallorca since the age of two.
The bar lives up to its name (perrito means little dog in Spanish) as you can see many dogs there. “It is my dog that brings me and sometimes I have to make a detour in order not to end up here,” says one customer who has come with his Golden Retriever. But it is not surprising that want to come when they treat them with ham.
In the Aquanauta in Avenida Argentina, which has just celebrated its second anniversary, one of the four owners, Andrés Ballinas, is half Swedish and half Mexican. “We wanted to create a pleasant place to spend some time and we thought it would be a great place for tacos in the city,” he says. The name was inspired by a legendary Mexican wrestler.
Simply Delicious, in Plaça de la Navegació, also has a Swedish side.
Ronen Levy, began to cook for friends where he lived, and in a few years became one of the neighbourhood’s personalities. “I love people and cooking, so I opened the restaurant,” he says. Ronen was born in Israel, where he met a Swedish girl in a Kibbutz.
She took him to Rättvik and then to Stockholm, where he lived for 18 years.
He plans to expand with a shop in the same building where they will sell organic vegetables and products from the restaurant.
Ziva, Plaça Navegació
Petra Wigermo’s health empire has grown in Mallorca. She was a holistic health consultant in Sweden, and then moved to Mallorca ten years ago. “I opened my restaurant because I wanted to share my knowledge about health,” says Petra, owner of one of the first vegan restaurants on the island and also the first to serve superfood. She recently opened two new Zivas, one of them in Santa Ponsa and the other in the centre of Palma. She has also given local farmers the opportunity to cultivate the products she uses in her cooking.