Getting used to different tastes in food...

Getting used to different tastes in food was one of the first challenges encountered in our new life in Algarve. There wasn't much we did not like and our health and figure improved greatly with the healthy diet.

But there were one or two dishes that came as a shock to our delicate "English" stomachs!

The first occasion was when our arrival at the workshop coincided with the lads lunch break. They were seated outside under an old gnarled olive tree; cans of Sagres beer nearby. One worker, Joao, had already started to eat and when he looked up to greet us I stared in horror at his mouth. It was covered in a slimy ink which dripped from his lips onto his chin. He noticed my alarm and with an inky grin held the lunch box up to me saying; "You like some?"

I tried desperately not to recoil at the lumps of white squid that slid about in the inky soup and with a sickly smile replied; "Nao obrigada. I've had my lunch".

A few weeks later we were invited to the chief carpenters casa for evening drinks. I wandered into the kitchen to offer help. Again I was stopped in my tracks by his wife, who, taking a tiny frozen bird from the freezer and proceeded to hold the sparrow over gas flame to singe off its feathers. I was so relieved not to be asked for supper. Not just for my stomachs sake but because I'm a member of the R.S.P.B.

Meanwhile hub had been taken to outside yard where our carpenter gesticulated with glee at the washing line. Hanging over the line in all its grisly beauty was a massive striped silver-skinned Moray eel. It was at least a metre long & 15 cm. wide. Eyes stared out of its huge head that held needle-like teeth a good 2 & half cm. long. Carlos had obviously had a very good nights fishing!

Invited to dinner the following evening we were apprehensive, to say the least as to what would be on menu!

We need not have worried. Set before us on pristine white tablecloth were plates of large, crispy, succulent, eel steaks, fresh salad accompanied by the finest white Lagoa wine. A veritable feast.
Since that time we've acquired a taste for many Portuguese dishes but thankfully some will always remain a mystery.

By the way, Carlos' wife received a fine but bizarre gift from her husband. A bracelet made from the Moray eels razor-like teeth!