© Nicola Di Nunzio
THE NEED SHARPENS THE INGENUITY
It is said that the need sharpens the ingenuity and, in these parts, the meagre resources forced the traditional Alentejo gastronomy to resort to great creativity to, according to the seasons, mix simple ingredients to create tasty and different meals and dishes that are often quite surprising.
PREPONDERANT PRESENCE OF PORK, LAMB, GAME AND ESPECIALLY BREAD
In this cuisine, the pork, the lamb, the game (rabbit, hare, partridge or wild boar) and especially the bread are heavily used. These ingredients are combined with the local spices and the various culinary herbs - which grow spontaneously in the plains and streams or are grown in the gardens and fields - and seasoned with the region’s excellent olive oil. Thus, famous dishes are born, such as the caldeirada de borrego (lamb stew), ensopado de borrego (fried lamb served on slices of bread and covered with onion and garlic sauce), lebre com feijão (hare with beans), javali estufado (stewed wild boar) and cozido de grão (chickpea stew).
You won’t find many typical Alentejo dishes that don’t include coriander, pennyroyal, mint, oregano, garlic or olive oil. Even rarer are those in which bread is not included. Bread is used in migas (a side dish), açordas (sliced bread with garlic, coriander, and poached eggs to which are added other ingredients, according to the type of açorda), lavadas (cold pressed tomato soup), gaspachos (another cold soup, made with raw vegetables), vinagradas (another type of side-dish) or masmarras (mashed bread and garlic, served hot). For the lovers of bread in generous doses, and in types of soup alone, we have the shark, panela (with different types of meat), purslane, tomato and pennyroyal soups.
© Nicola Di Nunzio
This close to the Guadiana river and its tributaries, freshwater fish is naturally present in local dishes; a flavour not to be missed by lovers of this type of fish. It is the main ingredient of the delicious caldeiradas and fish soups.
Also not to be overlooked are the many types of cured, dry sausages (mostly made from Iberian Pig), served both as appetizers and side dishes, the local olives and the region’s excellent wines (among which Pias wines are especially famous). After the main course, delight yourself with the Alentejo cheeses, of which the Serpa Cheese (demarcated region) is the most outstanding ambassador. To end the meal, nothing better than a delicious queijada de requeijão (small pastry made with requeijão, a ricotta-like cheese).
Para provar esta gastronomia pode fazer um roteiro pelos restaurantes da cidade de Serpa e do concelho, e assim experimentar o que cada um deles pode apresentar de melhor.
To taste this gastronomy you can plan a tour of the restaurants of the city and municipality of Serpa and thus experience the best each one has to offer. Visit the "where to eat" section and choose the dishes that appeal to you the most. In the end, and to ensure a good digestion, enjoy the peace and quiet with a good walk. You’ll find more than enough reasons for a longer visit. Look Up the "Serpa Open Museum" section and make your choices to return again and again.
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