The most typical dish of Formentera is the salad ‘payesa’ (pagès: farmer). It is made up of green salad, bread, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggs, onion and the basic ingredient: the dried fish, a typical product of the island which seems to trace back to the Phoenician. It is fish fillets dried in the wind. Salinity and currents ‘cook’ the fish, up to obtain exquisite fillets, which will be stored and marketed in jars. The salad ‘payesa’ must be tried at least once, to understand what kind of flavors the island cuisine offers.
In Formentera, since time immemorial fish has been dried in the sun to conserve it. Traditionally most of the population made a living from fishing and working the land. The fish that can be dried in this way are cartilaginous ones with a hard skin and no scales, like skate. The fish is dried with the skin on. First, the guts are removed and the fish is cleaned. Then it is cut into fillets and covered in cooking salt for 2 to 7 hours, depending on the size. Afterward, the salt is removed and the pieces of fish are washed in seawater. Finally they are left to dry in the sun by hanging the fillets from the ends of branches of juniper bushes. The time they take to dry varies between 1 day and 4 days, depending on each piece of fish. Dry fish can be conserved for months. It has a hard texture, salty flavor and smells of the sea.
The quality and abundance of fruits and vegetables often amaze visitors to Spain: with onions, tomatoes, peppers and watermelons of huge size! That's the perfect lunch to stay light, healthy and ready to come back to the beach, or an interesting dinner to taste some authentic flavors of this beautiful island.