Orange Groves of Portugal

6 04 2011

Well, we are back from our trip to Portugal, good to be home but uh, um, to a record breaking snow fall on Saturday. We were shocked back to reality as we peered out the airplane windows, but you should have seen the faces of those passengers visiting for the first time!

Portugal is wonderful. I already shared my favourite Portuguese treat, Pastel de Nata in my previous post, and yup, I kept on eating them, almost one a day with my tea. You can’t go to Portugal and not fall in love with the oranges. There are so many varieties, they grow them all year-long and apparently it was the Portuguese navigators and sailors that originally brought the orange to the Mediterranean. We had the amazing opportunity to visit a Portuguese family who has a small orange grove outside Faro, in the Algarve. A fellow yogi sweetly connected us to her family so we could experience her home country the way it is meant to be appreciated, by visiting local villages. The three of us count this as one of the highlights of the trip, if not the best part. Obrigado Liana.

We met Joe, Liana’s dad, at the “cafe across the street from the church on the main street of Santa Barbara de Nexe”. In his words, “you know where that is?”. Us, “Yeah sure, we gotta a map and we’ll meet you there”. Right. We found it, eventually, not withstanding a little back seat driver incident between Nat and Bro (Nat the back seat driver) 😉 We arrived to learn the church was the same church Joe was baptized in, it was in a quaint town and we had a cappuccino in the little cafe before following him to the homestead. I wish I could have captured the smell, there is nothing like it. The moment we arrived in the country side, all you could smell was orange blossoms. As we drove, we rolled the windows down to take in deep breaths of the sweet aroma.

We toured the house, met the dogs, the parrot, the chickens (which I want but can’t have, they get 10 eggs a day!), and then went for a stroll through the orchard, with grandma, Maria and Joe. Joe pointed out the winter oranges, tangerines, figs and apricots just starting to grow, two kinds of avocados and a little yellow fruit I forget the name of!

Unknown Fruit

Avocados

Baby Figs

Baby Apricots

Birds Nest

They were peeling tangerines, feeding us and filling shopping bags full of fruit as we walked. The farmer who tends the land pointed out a little bird nest, saying that the same birds lay only two eggs each time. Amazing. Sadly, since the EU was established, having personal orange groves, Joe has about 1000 trees, doesn’t produce the income it use to. A person needs many more than that to subsist on orange farming alone. We talked about the similarities in the wheat farming in Canada, orange production is controlled in a similar manner, all produce is cycled through a central channel.

Look at this pile of oranges we had – if you can believe we almost ate them all, we brought home the few that were left. We made juice from other oranges we would buy by the bag out of a grocery cart left on the street, leaving a 1 Euro coin in a can, love it.

Portugal has much to share,  its simplicity of life and its way of slowing one down. The freshness of the food, from the fruit, vegetables, breads, cheeses and fish. We enjoyed many meals of grilled seafood, caught that day by the restaurants owner or fisherman.

When you travel, do you attempt to get a better idea of the culture and way of life? What is your favourite travel food experience?

Eat well, be well,

Nat

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