Visit the Portuguese supermarket and you will find shelves of fascinating ingredients that you have never seen before. The Portuguese love their food, and that means traditional dishes cooked from fresh ingredients. Convenience foods find little support here.

No matter what your style of cooking food tastes so much better when made with really fresh wholesome ingredients. Visit the municipal market to find fish caught the night before or vegetables freshly dug from the fields. Local grown fruit really has taste and is so much more nourishing.

Chourico

Smoked pork sausages. Some are similar to the Italian pepperami whilst others are made with meat and flour, or, like bla.ck pudding, pigs blood. Sliced thinly they are excellant fried for breakfast or will add so much taste to soup or a pasta sauce.

A well known Portuguese snack is Pao com Chourico.. moist traditional bread baked with slices of meat chourico inside. Restaurants may offer chourico as a starter, heated at the table on a special pottery plate with burning medronho.

Bacalhau

Visit any supermarket in the Algarve and you are likely to find a tourist wrinkling his nose at the dried cod fish. Yet to the Portuguese there is no dish so close to their heart. Bacalhau is the traditional Christmas dinner and it is said there is a different way of preparing it for every day of the year.

The cod which are salted and dried to make bacalhau are not to be caught in the waters around Portugal. Today the hard white fish are imported from Norway but in the past this was a great national industry.

Fishing schooners set sail from ports in the north of Portugal and the island of Madeira to cross the Atlantic to the Grand Banks off the coast of Canada. Once there they launched a fleet of one man dorys from where the cod were caught on hand lines.

Aboard the mother vessel the fish were cleaned and then layered in salt in oak barrels. When the hold was full the ships returned to Portugal and the fish were dried on the quayside.

Despite the strong smell the fish has a pleasent savoury taste when cooked. Catch a taste in any cafe by trying the small triangular fishcakes..pasta de bacalhau

Marmelo

Quinces are rarely seen in UK today but can be found growing in the hedgerows and orchards throughout the Algarve.

The jam made from these is called Marmalada and is the original version of our marmalade. You will find it in the supermarket packed in a flat rectangular plastic box. Maybe it would make a novelty Christmas present for that annoying freind who has everything.