Those who know would say that you can’t really get to understand a people and its culture until you’ve tasted at least some of their food. The Algarve has a long and established gastronomic tradition that is also one of the richest in Portugal.
Both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic pass by here and leave their influence on the Algarvians’ favourite cooking. For those who would like to try fresh dishes of tuna, caught here along the Algarve coast since the time when the Arabs built the almadravas, or buildings for processing the freshly caught fish, Vila Real de Santo António is the place to come.
Try the traditional estupeta or the muxama (smoked tuna fillet). The Nature Reserves are a breeding ground for the tastiest crustaceans and molluscs, the sea is full of fish and the Rio Guadiana also contributes to this range of natural flavours.
The “cataplana”, a shell-shaped copper vessel, retains the flavours of the food and is one of the hallmarks of the Algarve, in which the taste of clams from the sea blends with that of pork from the countryside. A trip into the interior reveals a very different cuisine and one tied to game and hunting as well as the meat from cattle raised in the area, often accompanied by local vegetables.
The pastry is also based on fruits from the region with the almond trees grown here giving the small almond desserts, made into all kinds of shapes such as fruit, animals and often flowers, their wonderful fresh flavour. Figs are also often featured in traditional recipes, with their unique taste, a taste of the true Algarve