One of the best things about travelling in Europe is coming across the local markets. The coastal towns have wonderful indoor fish markets selling fresh fish and seafood of all shapes and size, frequently still wriggling wildly and trying to escape from the slab. Then there are the fruit and vegetable stalls offering the best regional produce which tastes of the country, unlike the bland supermarket varieties which have been transported many miles so we can have them on our plates all year round.
It’s Saturday morning in Olhao and the town is buzzing with life as the locals and the visitors peruse the market stalls. Baskets of beans, pyramids of cabbages, jars of honey and bunches of herbs line the seafront. Even caged songbirds and live chickens are available. Inside a long, red, Moorish building I find the fish, freshly caught this morning and laid out on metal slabs waiting to be chosen and then filleted. There are long eels, bat-winged skate, small sharks and spiny spider crabs. I’m drawn to the huge, dark pink fillets of tuna and ask for a thick slice.
Next door I spot the delicatessen stalls and discover a strong, hard, cows cheese which I had savoured for lunch in Faro. Five rounds for €5 – a bargain. Outside I spy purple carrots (which I later discover are actually very large, long radishes!) and fennel bulbs, the perfect accompaniment to the tuna.
Lunch is a feast of grilled tuna steak, fennel and boiled baby new potatoes. It couldn’t get much fresher than this.