this is the archive for the ‘algarving’ category:

a sound postcard from portugal

a couple of weeks ago, a postcrosser sent bbc radio4 a really nice sound piece about her favorite sound, which was the sound of postcards being dropped through her mail slot. in the conversation we had with her afterwards, i discovered marg had been collecting sounds for quite some time, all around the world. including this one, made not even 20kms from here:

every one of these sounds is part of living here. the birds and the songs, the waves and the planes — they’re all algarve. i find this so magical, that it makes me wish i had the forethought of recording much longer pieces from the places we’ve lived in, instead of just seconds.

marg has lots of field recordings like this from her trips to tokyo, santorini or the black forest. i am enthralled, listening to all these little bits of saudade.

bolinhas do carlos

and since the theme of the moment seems to be sweet stuff, i’m going to mention the typical beach snack in portugal too: bolas de berlim! they’re a different species from their german or slovenian counterparts, in that they’re not filled with jam or covered with a thin layer of chocolate. these balls are serious business, cut in half and properly filled with “creme pasteleiro”, a kind of thick egg cream.

as a rule, they’re outstanding everywhere in portugal, but somehow they seem to taste better at the beach… maybe something about all that sea breeze opening one’s appetite? :D men carry them around the beach in styrofoam boxes, shouting out loud “booooooliiiinha!” so that everyone can hear and come to them for their sweet craving.

we like them a lot but truth be told, we don’t go to the beach all that often… so when a friend told us they could be purchased straight from the source, we drove to the factory in olhão and got some!

i have to say, i was a bit skeptical but they were a-ma-zing! still warm from the frying and filled with the freshest egg cream, not too lemony or otherwise weird — just as i like them. what a treat!

sadly, the factory closes over winter, and we’re already counting the days until they’re back in business. see you soon, dear bolinhas!


corn flour is used in the north of portugal to make “broa”, a heavy kind of bread that often accompanies countryside meals… but in the south, this bread is nowhere to be found. instead, they grind the corn coarsely to make xarém, a sort of soupy concoction resembling very watery polenta. corn being corn, it tastes mostly to the flavorings one adds to it, and so it’s incredibly versatile.

you can eat it with mussels and bacon, as is traditional in olhão:

or with octopus, as in this cooking demonstration in tavira:

the corn meal was cooked in the octopus’ cooking water, and turned an unappealing brown, but was actually way tastier than its yellow alternative. either way, it is super heavy as a meal, and best enjoyed in winter. i approve!

analogue wednesday #160

our regional platibanda is a thing of beauty.

analogue wednesday #159

home sweet home.