Check out that rather yummy looking meal on the front cover of Jean Anderson's book.
In Portugal, that would be labelled vegetarian, despite the fact that the main dish is apparently some kind of mollusc.
Oysters, clams, cockles and all of those internationally renowned fish dishes are blithely adorned, on Algarve menus, with a big, green 'V'.
The restaurant owners are not trying to be sneaky. As far as I could ascertain, vegetarianism has not taken off in a big way in southern Portugal. It's a distinctly foreign idea, explained as 'sin carne' - without meat. There is no meat in seafood meals, it's fish.
Wandering around Albufeira in search of genuinely vegetarian food, I was accosted by one restauranteur who was sure he could provide it. Bless him, but he really did not have a clue. He offered beef lasagne, then alighted with glee upon his extensive fish courses.
Finally understanding that I will eat nothing that was supplied by a fisherman or butcher, he seemed distinctly crestfallen. "Salad?" He suggested. "I have great salads!" Then spotted one more thing. "Cheese omelette!"
Salad and cheese omelette are ubiquitous throughout the region's eateries. If all else fails, you will be able to eat one of those. In fact, I managed to have a cheese omelette every single day of my Algarve holiday. Fortunately, it was an easy one to default to, as I love it!
For those of you who wish to try Portuguese food, then you're out of luck. This was my grand quest, which repeatedly ended in failure. It has been explained to me that the Portuguese simply do not have a traditional meal which omits meat or fish.
All vegetarian dishes on offer will have been borrowed from elsewhere.
It's just not a 'thing' in Portugal. When they have so many world famous fish dishes, vegetarianism seems like a slap in the face. But it's inching in. I guess it's about supply and demand. The more veggies turn up, the more likely vegetarian meals will be on the menu.
Such an enjoyable account - made my mouth water! I'm not vegetarian although other members of my family are the "without meat" type who will eat fish, so I guess they'd do well in Albufeira.
i find it so bizzare more places dont offer veggie food. Many meat eaters like a good veggie meal too
Thank you very much, and I'm glad that you thought so.
Lovely article - and really useful!
I loved being there. Unfortunately, I had to come home with the holiday was over. :(
Thanks for reading my articles!
Very interesting corner of the world. I liked the previous installment as well.