Faro sketches

I love Portugal, I just do. I get the feeling when I go that I´m seeing a parallel universe, almost like a version of Spain in which trees haven´t been cut down, where everything is greener, and men sport moustaches.

I said, in my previous post, that I meant to spend a lot of time browsing supermarket shelves. That seemed odd to a fair few, I bet, but I´ll explain.

Graphic desing is everywhere, in a way that great art may not be. Even if Faro only has a small old centre, and no world famous monuments, there´s penty to look at in the way of signs and labels. The best and the worst of are instantly available, and to me, it is particulary absorbing, because I feel I can tell all I want to know about a country from it. Or something like that.

Faro is very like southern Spain in many things. The climate, obviously, the whitewashed buildings, a lot of the architecture. The inside of the museum could be the inside of any museum in Spain. A Roman mosaic, a few shards of Islamic pottery, a few medieval headstones, a welter of baroque religious pictures. So far, so similar.
But step inside a supermarket, and the differences jump at you. What´s that misterious julienned vegetable labeled "caldo verde"? How about the five different pre-prepared mixes of vegetables for soup (we have one, at most)? Unfathomable cuts of meat. Five unknown types of Knorr stock cubes. Sausages in tins with the most lurid 70´s design!

All very fascinating to me. And when you get to the actual market, the real fun begins. There´s a swanky new building, all glass, very spruce, opening in a few days. I´ve been lucky to witness the last days of the old one, and I´m sure everyone will be pleased to see it go, because it´s dark, uncomfortable, and not very beautiful. But what atmosphere, my friends...

Being a sea town, the fish was so fresh you felt you might be slapped in the face by a sea bass any minute. It was also very cheap, and it was very hard not to buy a whole shoal to take home. I held myself in, and tried to sublimate the crazy cosumerism by just drawing (as shown). They had several little fish I didn´t recognize, and there was a stand wholly dedicated to moray eels.Sea monsters!
I didn´t even know they were edible. I couldn´t find any in a restaurant, sadly, so that´s one more incognita in my life.

I stocked up on things that weren´t heavy, since we only had one suitcase between us. Bunches of wild oregano, wooden spoons, little bottles of chili sauce, a mysterious condiment for roast chicken, and the ubiquitous sardine paste. I collected a fair amount of labels, from beer bottles, chocolate milk powder, pastries and sugar packets.

I also ate an eel, snakey weird looking animal, loved it, and took a boat that nearly sunk in a howling storm (well, ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but give me a break, I´m a complete landlubber).

The most exotic thing was some fudge I picked up at the airport, thinking it would be mint. It turned out to be flavoured with rosemary, very confusing, but not bad.

And that´s all. I have masses of oregano, so if anyone can think of a recipe other than pizza I can use it on, I´ll be much obliged.

16 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

oooh, caldo verde, I wondered about that, too, when I was in Portugal. Did you find out?

Kitchen Monkey dijo...

I really like your drawing style. And I am jealous that you live in Madrid. While I haven't been there, one of my favorite food cities in the world is very close by: San Sebastian!

I especially loved La Cuchara de San Telmo, best tapas I've ever had!

Here's a post on my food blog from my trip there last summer:

Look forward to seeing more drawings!

Kitchen Monkey dijo...

Make that two summers ago. Lord how the time flies.

Anónimo dijo...

caldo verde is to make soup, you can eat it before the main dish or alone.


xps dijo...

I would like to try el caldo verde, but not la morena, que pánico xime.....

Anónimo dijo...

I completely understand! Everyone keeps asking my what museums and famous cathedrals I visited on my recent trip to Spain, and then they look at me oddly when I tell them I spent all my time in food markets, bakeries, butcher shops, and fishmongers.

Anónimo dijo...

You make Portugal sound very appealing. Although if I ever go there I'll probably pass on the moray eel.

Anónimo dijo...

How brave/good of you to try the morey. I enjoy museums but I relish the everyday and the everyday is in the markets, bakeries etc.
We really enjoyed the Azors but didn't get to the main land.

Raquel dijo...

I´ve never been in Portugal and I can´t wait to visit it. I´m sure I´ll enjoy it as there´s so much to see!

Anónimo dijo...

luis, in case you come back here, could you tell which kind of soup or what else to put in there?

Anónimo dijo...

Supermarkets, markets and packaging/design: sounds like one of our holidays! The Corte Ingles is a treasure trove for us when we come to Spain and just try to get my Danish husband out of the yogurt aisle (aisle!) in a French hypermarket...

About the oregano: I'll soon be posting about of said husband's recipes which involves quite a bit of oregano, so keep coming back... Otherwise, it's great for souvlaki (tiny pieces of marinated porc, marinated in lemon and oregano and garlic, bbq'ed on small skewers). YUMMY!

lobstersquad dijo...

Anonymous: yes, now I know, the vegetale is called berza in Spanish, I don´t know if that´s any use to you.
Kitchen monkey: my turn to be jealous, San Sebastián is some seriously amazing place.
Luis Rosa: Thanks, Luis. I wish I´d had some caldo verde, but I was too takn up with the seafood!
Xps: ya te digo, maja.
Rebecca: people aren´t very understanding, but that´s their loss.
Julie: it´s a great place. I´m curious about the eel, but maybe it´s too scary, you´re right.
Tanna: the Azores is top of my list of places to go. The end of the world, no?
Guru: go go go!
Asmo: thanks, that sounds delicious, I´ll be trying it soon.

lobstersquad dijo...

anonymous, now I know for sure. It´s cabbage, the green kind, sliced very very fine, and added at the end to a potato and onion soup. I think I´ll make it soon, so stay tuned.

Anónimo dijo...

Here, in Portuguese neighborhoods in New England, caldo verde is generally kale and potato soup, sometimes it has sausage too. Simple and very good.

Markets, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores-my favorite places to visit in other countries. (I like museums too). In this age, where the world is so much more homogeneous, it is a pleasure to see the little unique survivals of differences in daily life.

When I was a little girl, and went to England to visit my family (in the 50s and 60s), you could have known in a minute, dropped down in London, that you were in a different country, not the US. It even smelled different..now, you could wander for quite a while, and not know whch country you were in, in much of Western Europe, Canada,and the US..Probably australia and New Zealand, too, I imagine.

Anónimo dijo...

Like a good portuguese, I DO love portuguese food! :D And I'm glad when a foregner says that went home impressed by the portuguese "cuisine" (Cozinha Portuguesa, in Pt.).

Caldo Verde is a very portuguese soup ("sopa" in Pt.)! Like some others. Yes we do have a great variety, mainly mixing vegetables and salty water!. If we eat only this we'll be pleased. But not enough ;).

Here, we eat 1st Soup, 2nd Meat or Fish (one at lunch, the other at dinner or vice-versa), 3rd a dessert, 4th the fruit!

I'll put here the link of a national brand of cuisine so you can see the look of it, and who knows probably try ;) -> http://www.vaqueiro.pt/receitas/receita_detail.aspx?id=1123

Since you are in Spain I guess it won't be such a problem to translate. Enjoy!

Anónimo dijo...

The Soup Should be eaten with "Brôa", a portuguese type of bread.