Anyone who has holidayed on the Algarve will be aware of some of the classical tastes of Portugal; the ocean fresh sardines grilled on charcoal barbecues, chicken piri-piri and vinho verde but there is a great deal more to be enjoyed.
Portugal has a long history associated with the sea, both in exploration and fishing. This is reflected by the fact that the most common main course is likely to be fresh fish. Although the Algarve is synonymous with sardines, equally popular dishes include octopus, squid, lobster, crab, shrimp, hake, sea bass, lamprey and of course, tuna. Fish stews cooked and presented in earthenware pots with rice are a speciality and a wonderful treat when accompanied by a good bottle of local wine.
Of special mention is Cataplana, which is both a traditional Portuguese dish and also the name of the pan it is cooked in. Two bowls hinged on one side and crafted from copper, form a closed dish that retains the heat and is used to cook either fish or meat, together with rice, pasta, or potatoes with seasonal vegetables and well seasoned with spices and herbs.
Despite the abundance of fresh fish the Portuguese do also love their meat, especially pork, chicken, and lamb. Beef is also available but is more likely to be cooked in a rich sauce than roasted. Meat dishes are often served with boiled potatoes and vegetables but salad is often a preferable alternative because the Portuguese do tend to cook their vegetables longer than we would normally choose.