If it is true that the natural beauty of the Algarve’s coast, the sun, and the almonds trees in bloom have highly contributed to developing the Algarve, it was also true that the food in the Algarve has also helped.
Simultaneously rich in flavours and simple cooking, the cuisine of the Algarve, like everything else, has its roots in distant times and traditions and absorbed diverse influences. Its origins being a humble fishing area facing the Atlantic, fish and seafood play a lead role in the food of the Algarve.
Fish and Shellfish
Food in the Algarve offers several recipes in which the seafood is deliciously prepared with the help of herbs, spices and other flavours. The Algarve is indeed a paradisiacal land for those who like fish and shellfish. In these cases, the best recipes come from the fishermen who, for centuries perfected the best way to preserve the natural flavours – slowly grilling them over charcoal. But not only; there are several recipes in which the seafood is deliciously prepared with the help of herbs, spices and other flavours.
Food in the Algarve like fish soups, octopus rice, dog-whelks with beans, fish stew, bread soup with shellfish and the most famous of the Algarve’s dishes, the “Amêijoas na Cataplana” (clams bouillabaisse) are absolutely divine!
Yet, the influences of food in the Algarve are not just from the sea. The entire inner region provided food in the Algarve with wonderful recipes based on vegetables, wild plants and meat from the mountains’ pastures. The inland adds a touch of rural flavours to the food of the Algarve with its broad beans, chicken Piri-Piri (spicy, charcoal-grilled), leg of lamb pot roast, “Cozido de Grão ou Repolho” (chickpea and cabbage stew with meats), pickled carrots served with fish and meat, or rabbit stew with herbs.
However, the crown of the food in the Algarve is its desserts whose main ingredients are almonds and figs. And there they are, tempting and skilfully shaped by agile hands, the almond “Queijinhos” and “Morgadinhos”, the “D. Rodrigos”, the “Morgado de Lagos”, the “Nógados”, the “Folhados de Olhão”… all mouth-watering food of the Algarve, specialties served with a Lagoa, Lagos or Tavira wine or with one of the Algarve’s traditional liquors made of fruits and honey or with a glass of Medronho (arbutus brandy).
It is a rich legacy, increasingly possible to be appreciated in a whole variety of restaurants from the more gourmet oriented to the simpler, typical diners or family tascas throughout the region. Bom apetite!