this is the archive for the ‘algarving’ category:


maios

in the north of portugal, the first of may is usually greeted with “maias”, showy yellow flowers that bloom around this time of the year which the local people hang in doors… but in the south, the tradition is much more convoluted! meet the maios:

they’re like “scarecrows” that the local people make and sit in the streets or in their doorstep, usually accompanied by a short rhyme telling of a wise tale or sometimes a bit of political criticism. we passed these in a nearby town that was filled with them in every corner… and so we had to stop to have a look. :)

analogue wednesday #136

river crossings.

dom rodrigo

yesterday at a restaurant over lunch, a british lady sitting with a group of friends on the table next to ours asked the waitress for a dessert recommendation, “something typical!“, she said. the waitress pointed to one of the few items on the menu that didn’t have a photo and said “try this — you’re going to like it. if you don’t, you don’t have to pay!“. she laughed and ordered it.

while we waited for our food to show up, i wondered what she had recommended… and then when she came over carrying a mysterious tinfoil pyramid, i knew she’d made a good choice. the group of friends ooooh’d and aaah’d at the contraption while she twisted and unwrapped the surprise package until an unappetising “nest” emerged. urged by the waitress, she hesitantly scooped a bit onto her fork… and then proceeded to gobble the whole thing in a flash! :)

dom rodrigo

dom rodrigo is a traditional sweet from the south of portugal, consisting of (what else!) egg yolks and sugar, sprinkled with a bit of almond. the yolks are turned into angel hair, delicate golden strands drenched in a syrupy concoction of almond and more yolks.

here’s the boy opening his:

it looks like a mess and would probably be a hard sell were it merely scooped onto a plate, but the fanciness of the package gives an almost dignified air to the whole thing.

not that it matters how it looks because the taste of it… goodness. those gooey strands are the thing of dreams! they melt in your mouth and leave nothing behind but sweetness, the faintest hint of cinnamon, and a crave for the next hit.

dom rodrigo

a couple of scoops later and it feels like it’s over before it even started. soon enough you’ll find yourself trying not to lick the paper!

the fish basket

back in berlin, we had a weekly delivery vegetables in a basket. i’ve always liked the concept and it made sense when we lived there… but around here, with a market brimming with fresh stuff practically around the corner (including bio produce), i can’t really justify the indulgence. that said, i do miss one of the aspects that i liked the most about the basket, which was that it removed the choice element, forcing us to improvise and try new things.

enter… fish.

fish is one of those things that took some time to acclimatise once we moved here. we knew we wanted to try eating more of it (hence #54 on the list) and the market is filled with fresh stuff, but frankly, for a beginner, it’s more than a little daunting to pick and choose what to try… so why not leave that choice to the local fishermen and go with whatever they catch that day? i’m a fan of the throw-yourself-to-the-deep-end approach sometimes.

and this is how we now we have a semi-regular fish basket! :) it comes from fuzeta, a seaside parish of olhão around 15km from here. whatever their group of fishermen catches the day before, it’s delivered in less than 24 hours, gutted, sealed in vacuum and covered in ice — and that’s what we’re having throughout the week.

we’ve only had a couple of deliveries so far, but it has been working brilliantly, and the feeling of supporting the local community on their traditional trades is a great one. plus, we’ve also been trying quite a few new species with yummy results. this week: cuttlefish, ray and horse mackerel.

let the adventurous culinary exploration continue! :)

walking on history, XI: a really old tree

when i started this walking on history series, i was inspired by all the sidewalk memorials we stumbled upon in berlin. but what about other kinds of history… like natural history?

there’s this olive tree a couple of towns over, in the middle of a touristic resort by the ria formosa. it’s huge and gnarly and falling apart a bit, the trunk wide and open enough to fit someone inside. and it’s also mind-blowing…

…because it’s one of the oldest trees in the world, with over 2200 years old. just let that sink in for a minute.

this tree was here before the visigoths invaded the peninsula from the north, before the moors took their place from the south, before the christians kicked them out. when portugal officially came to existence in the 12th century, this tree was already a thousand years old, bearing fruit and witness to it all. it “saw” the first sailors leaving towards the unknown a few centuries later, saw the empire rise and fall… and these days, it mostly sees tourists and hears their children’s laughter, splashing in the nearby pool.

it’s still here after all these years, like it’s always been, stretching our perspective of time and making us feel tiny in comparison. a few years ago, we planted a small olive tree on our backyard and now i wonder how long (hundreds of years? thousands?) it’ll live and what things it’ll see. i guess we’ll never know… and i’m ok with that. :)