Monday, April 22, 2013

The Market

The Market Building
 Back home we have the Halifax Farmer's Market over in Halifax, but it is not a 'real' market by the definition the rest of the world uses. . . . . more 'craft' market with a few food vendors. Regis says I can find a market where ever I travel, and have managed to find them in most locations I have visited.

Now Olhao has a real market, and it operates almost every day. There are grocery stores here, but they are mostly small corner operations where you can get canned goods, wine, or speciality items. The market contains the majority of the food you need. You can but meat or vegetables at the corner 'supermarket' in a emergency, but really, why go there when the market is available six days a week.
Farm Fresh Food

Sobeys, Superstore, Loblaws, and the other huge supermarkets have not taken over Olhao yet. If you need bread or rolls you go to the bakery, and will probably pick up some delicious pastries with your 'fresh from the oven' rolls or bread. For most everything else you go to the market.

Selling her Produce
Olhao's market is in two beautiful large brick buildings down on the waterfront. One contains fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, grains and other things. The other building is the fish market, and you can also find fresh meat, cheeses, but Olhao is the main fishing town in southern Portugal, so the building is mostly seafood. Around the outside of the building are the Portuguese 'Snack Bars' – mostly I think these sell beer for the husbands to sit and drink with their friends while wives are inside the market stocking up for the evening meal.
Saturday Market Day

The fruit & vegetable buildings contains stall after stall of people selling lovely fresh produce. Tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes grown in a garden, piles of fava beans waiting to be shelled, red green & yellow peppers, crisp lettuce, onions, leeks and garlic. You can buy strawberries, raspberries, bananas, lemons and oranges. A couple of euros will buy you a 4 kilo bag of slightly smaller oranges to make into juice (And we wondered why you couldn't get good juice in the store . . . . .) In between you will find stalls selling a wonderful selection of honey, delicious almonds and other specialities. Other vendors sell spices, vast buckets of olives, cages full of live snails, or bins of dried beans and rices. At one end of this building there are also butchers selling chickens, pork, and rabbit, as well as a variety of delicious portuguese sausages and cured meats. There are also a couple of stalls selling a large selection of cheese, and as in Spain, they make a large percentage of their cheese from goat or sheep milk, so I am very happy.

Walk outside the middle door of the vegetable building and you know you are headed to the fish market. Inside are tables of melting ice loaded with fresh fish and seafood. Don't bother going on Monday however, because the fleet is tied up Sunday, so there won't be any seafood until the boats return later that day. You know everything is fresh. There are eels, octopus, squid, and so many kinds of fish I cannot identify. Of course the names are all in Portuguese, so we rely on what is recommended. On our first visit we wanted sardines, to fry up for supper (no sardines do not come in a can here), but were told it is a bit early for good sardines, we should wait for june to get the best fresh sardines. We elected to take our chances with the available ones, and Pete cooked them up with some local port. Wow, I can't imagine how the 'good' ones in June would be.
Selling on the Seafront

On Saturday this wonderful market actually expands with stalls spilling out onto the sidewalks and the waterfront malecon, and it seems that the entire town comes to the market to not only shop but more important to socialize and catch up with friends and relatives or find out the local gossip. Off to one side a gypsy market sells clothes, crafts, and everything else you didn't know you needed.

We do need to go to the grocery store for coffee and dried pasta, but our grocery bag will not be very heavy.

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