After two days full of experiences at the first national congress about food and tourism, organized by APTECE in Figueira da Foz, I am shocked, to say the least.
First of all, I just might of found my calling (yet another one), besides wanting to show the world everything about Portugal and it’s cultural richness. I am never going to give up on enhancing Algarve’s potential as a foodie paradise. With a limited size, Portugal and it’s humans should, by now, be a complete encyclopedia about everything ‘tuga related. I was surprised, well maybe not that surprised, at what most know (or don’t) and share about the south. Yes, we are a seasonal region, why of course we get flooded with tourists in August, but – we have so much more going on besides that. All of the food festivals, always an excuse to go eat a typical cataplana; the beaches and the grotto trips in a random fisherman’s boats; some outstanding unknown and undervalued wines; some of the best recipes with almonds; the fig trees growing in every corner, even in the middle of the city; our oranges that are to die for; carob’s growing potential and superb sweet flavor; the mountainside like Monchique and it’s typical grilled chicken; Espinhaço de Cão‘s great chouriço; potentially the best honey you will ever taste can be found in every saturday morning market (artisanal production); that tasty Folar de Olhão with it’s cinnamon twirlly goodness. Oh, and the tuna! So much to say about the tuna. Our muxama (salted tuna belly and dried for 12 days) is unique and it is only produced in Vila Real de Santo António.
This is arbutus berry. We make a strong liquor with it called Medronho, the same name of the fruit in portuguese. I have also been experimenting with it’s version of jam.
Here is carob I picked from my tree. Some people will still break a pod in half and chew it, because of it’s sweet flavor.
The downside to the Algarve, and maybe a bit all over Portugal is, some people don’t care. I might just sugar coat it a bit by saying that, they should care more. Also, the competition between regions is beyond ridiculous, and extremely unnecessary. You might have the best cheese, but I certainly make the best marmelada! It’s just that sort of thing a proud regional portuguese has to deal with – that is when he/she is a cultural interacting type of person.
Cooperation is important, and getting people to realize how amazing cultural heritage is can become a challenge, specially when lack of communication between small producers, tourists, travel agents, hotels and the outside world is an everlasting problem. We forget that we are a community, that we are able to help each other and build something new, something big, and still enhance a thousand years of historical quirks that make us who we are today.
Going down south once again, and mass tourism aside, we are authentic. We have good resources, lovely beaches, fields rich with agriculture, seasonal markets, fresh fish everywhere. People, we have Food! Whoever hasn’t tried some of the typical regional cuisine, should travel to the Algarve just to do so. Obviously we will have pizzerias, hamburgers, barbecued meat and french fries, to content the not so foodie travelers, and all their kids (man do they eat poorly nowadays).
Basically, if you are reading this at the moment from a foreign country, right down on your bucket list to pay Portugal a visit, and if ever in the Algarve don’t hesitate to contact me for the authentic southern portuguese foodie experience. Mark my words people, readers, bloggers, I am going to change the way the Algarve is perceived by outsiders, and do so much more besides some good weather on a beach for the regular sunbathing tourists.
I have been away for the past weeks, busy visiting family in the US, trying to find and sort out a job, involved in an amazing project (spoilers await) and working on a few posts I so dearly want to share with you. I shall write again very soon, with a yummy recipe with lots of portuguese influence.
Ta ta for now people, keep on rocking in the kitchen xox