A Life in a Year – 9th May, Seafood Dining in Portugal

We arrived in Peso Da Regua and as it was almost mid afternoon we needed something to eat so we set about looking for a café or a bar but something suitable was difficult to find and so with options running out we choose a simple place on the road next to the river and made selections from a restricted but satisfyingly cheap menu.

Micky selected the local sausage, I choose hake and the girls went for what they thought was the safe option of a fish salad, but if they were expecting John West tuna they were in for a shock because when it arrived it was a plate of black eyed beans and chopped egg and a couple of unappetizing grilled fish complete with heads with bulging eyes and tails plonked on top.

Portugal is a seafaring nation with a huge fishing industry and this is reflected in the amount of seafood eaten. The country has Europe’s highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world. Fish is served grilled, boiled, fried or deep-fried, stewed or even roasted. Cod is the type of fish most consumed in Portugal and it is said that there are more than three hundred and sixty-five ways to cook it, one for every day of the year. In recognition of this Portugal has been granted an ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’, which is a sea zone in the Atlantic Ocean over which the Portuguese have special rights in respect of exploration and use of marine resources.  For the record it is the third largest Exclusive Economic Zone of the European Union, after France and the United Kingdom and the eleventh largest in the world.

Kim will eat mostly anything and Christine reluctantly finished hers but I would not describe Sue as a seafood enthusiast at the best of times and she really prefers her fish either in breadcrumbs or batter.  I wouldn’t say that she is a fussy eater but when it comes to fish she doesn’t really care for things that slither, float, or crawl about the seabed so she pushed this ugly critter around the plate a couple of times and then tried to cover it up with her knife and fork in a way that we used to try and hide uneaten food as children.  It didn’t work then and it didn’t work now and this gastro incident was a serious setback in Sue’s journey towards more adventurous dining.

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