Island traditions: Salsa Nadal

Christmas traditions get passed down from generation to generation as a way to remember loved ones and cherish the uniqueness of family and culture. In Ibiza, there is one Christmas tradition that still stands strong across the island and curiosity in most visitors. Salsa Nadal (Christmas sauce) is one of the more unusual traditional dishes of the island.

This dessert is soupy in consistency and possesses ingredients one would not normally think pair well. For many, it’s an acquired taste and for others it’s a dish to be defended – Christmas would not be Christmas without it. At the start of the festive season kitchens across the island are busy preparing large batches of the stuff, enough to last right through to the celebration of the Three Kings on January 6.

The recipe calls for masses of roasted almonds, eggs, sugar, pepper, cloves, all spice, saffron and strangely, meat broth. The ingredients are blended together to form a thick soup, with a flavour reminiscent of that other Spanish Christmas tradition, nougat. It is usually served piping hot in soup bowls or cups and accompanied by thick slices of sweet sponge cake.

The origins of this peculiar dessert are unknown. Speculation points to the Moors as the original importers of this dish to Ibiza. Recipes differ from area to area and the sauce makes a disguised appearance in Formentera and Valencia. Salsa Nadal is a must try dish for those who really want to imbibe the true Ibiza Christmas spirit.