Uma estrangeira em Portugal ou “Vá lá aumentem aí essa auto-estima, nós temos coisas boas”

I love Portugal, I just do. I get the feeling when I go that I´m seeing a parallel universe, almost like a version of Spain in which trees haven´t been cut down, where everything is greener, and men sport moustaches.

I said, in my previous post, that I meant to spend a lot of time browsing supermarket shelves. That seemed odd to a fair few, I bet, but I´ll explain.

Graphic desing is everywhere, in a way that great art may not be. Even if Faro only has a small old centre, and no world famous monuments, there´s penty to look at in the way of signs and labels. The best and the worst of are instantly available, and to me, it is particulary absorbing, because I feel I can tell all I want to know about a country from it. Or something like that.

Faro is very like southern Spain in many things. The climate, obviously, the whitewashed buildings, a lot of the architecture. The inside of the museum could be the inside of any museum in Spain. A Roman mosaic, a few shards of Islamic pottery, a few medieval headstones, a welter of baroque religious pictures. So far, so similar.
But step inside a supermarket, and the differences jump at you. What´s that misterious julienned vegetable labeled "caldo verde"? How about the five different pre-prepared mixes of vegetables for soup (we have one, at most)? Unfathomable cuts of meat. Five unknown types of Knorr stock cubes. Sausages in tins with the most lurid 70´s design!

Being a sea town, the fish was so fresh you felt you might be slapped in the face by a sea bass any minute. It was also very cheap, and it was very hard not to buy a whole shoal to take home. I held myself in, and tried to sublimate the crazy cosumerism by just drawing (as shown). They had several little fish I didn´t recognize, and there was a stand wholly dedicated to moray eels.Sea monsters!
I didn´t even know they were edible. I couldn´t find any in a restaurant, sadly, so that´s one more incognita in my life.

I stocked up on things that weren´t heavy, since we only had one suitcase between us. Bunches of wild oregano, wooden spoons, little bottles of chili sauce, a mysterious condiment for roast chicken, and the ubiquitous sardine paste. I collected a fair amount of labels, from beer bottles, chocolate milk powder, pastries and sugar packets.

The most exotic thing was some fudge I picked up at the airport, thinking it would be mint. It turned out to be flavoured with rosemary, very confusing, but not bad.

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