Editorial by Nick Gibbs

I bought some Sardines on Sunday. They were freshly cooked ‘espeto’ (spit) on a dagger in the sand over a wood fire. They cost 5€ and were served with lemon, local bread, and an explanation that was bursting with pride of their local origin and freshness by the man who had caught them and was now cooking them in front of me. 

Compare this to what I will receive if I am stupid enough to venture near the food on offer at the forthcoming Medieval fair in San Antonio. More like 30€ for a plate of gristle thrown at me on a plastic plate with a surly grunt by a man with as little concern of my satisfaction as he has for his own personal hygiene. 

So, how is it Cala Llonga Playing for Change organisers can find around 40 local food and drink vendors offering excellent quality and range at fair prices, yet the Ibiza Town and San Antonio Medieval fairs continue to inflict upon us the insanely overpriced crap from mainland vendors?

With So Many Wonderful Food Vendors in Ibiza, Why do we Bring Terrible Vendors from the Mainland?
With So Many Wonderful Food Vendors in Ibiza, Why do we Bring Terrible Vendors from the Mainland?

I did not get a photo of the Sardine chap, but the Paella people pictured, who were also in attendance Sunday, said they served 600 portions during the day – again a fiver. And there were so many good quality offerings – Moos Delivery and Ibosim were two names I recognised, but many seemed to be enthusiastic chefs, cooking whatever they loved to cook.

The food offered at the Medieval fairs is an embarrassment to the island and to our reputation in good food, a reputation we are supposedly keen to promote. The ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’ adage is fair enough for locals, I suppose – though I still wouldn’t get it, but every year many tourists are caught out by the Medieval Fair as what they see as just one more example of island gouging, and I know from our inbox at the newspaper that the feeling of being ripped off sticks in their throat as badly as the poor food.

The only reason/excuse I have ever heard about the outrageous pricing at the Medieval fairs is that the vendors have to travel over from the mainland. Easy solution then, relieve them of that burden and let our local vendors offer better quality at better prices.

And if the Medieval Fair comes as a job lot, rag the whole thing off and replace it with our own. If there is one thing Ibiza knows how to do well it is a fiesta. Ibiza Town’s Medieval fair is more elaborate, but the San Antonio fair is little more than a gouging food court and market stalls – neither of which we have any shortage of on the island.

We spend a huge amount of money promoting Ibiza at tourism fairs. Recently it has all been about encouraging tourism from alternative markets, and a big part of that has been in the promotion of  Ibiza’s quality of produce and our passion for food. Then twice a year we invite these awful enterprises to come over from the mainland and rip off our tourists serving plates of crap. It makes absolutely no sense.

I am usually very reluctant to accept the conspiracy theory conclusions to Ibiza’s problems. However, the Medieval fairs are so out of line with everything Ibiza says it wants to be about, that I cannot think of any other rational reason why they would be allowed to continue other than somebody in Ibiza, somebody involved in the authorisation of these events, is doing very nicely by allowing them to continue.

Surely the fact we have people who can do the job on the island should be enough in itself? Surely Government funded festivals should be supporting Ibiza’s own artisans even in a situation where the mainland could offer some prospect of good food, fairly priced? But for these fairs it is not good food, it is very poor food, and it is not fairly priced food, it is outrageously priced food. 

My sardines, by the way, were delicious.