BY SUSANA LOURENÇO . PORTUGAL . EUROPE
I’m on holidays. Right now. Flip flops between my toes. Hair flickering under the influence of a soft abnormal chilly breeze.
I always come a week or two of my vacation to this little town on the warmer south corner of Portugal. Gentle in its microclimate weather and generous in its sea and mountain flavoured gastronomy, it is bordered by numerous salterns, a natural reserve and a long stretch of bright-light-golden sand that puts the bluish green ocean right in front of you.
I’m longing for my first balmy bath of the year… Maybe tomorrow. The weather forecast is for an air temperature rise and a clear blue summer sky. For me, that means heath, beach, diving among the waves and strolling by night by the clear river that crosses town, after nurturing myself with the traditional local sweet that unarguably tempts me every holiday: the fig and carob cake.
It is a very dark, intensively sweet and aromatic delicacy that speaks to me of some of the Algarve’s surviving traditional crops, its summery orchards and ancestral recipes.
The soft warm scent of the oaky carob entwined with the sugary aroma of the fig molasses is a sneaky preview of the restrained taste waiting surreptitiously to explode.
When it hits your tongue, you get a delightful rush that wakes up all your senses. Then you feel its moistness, spreading slightly the unique flavour of the toasted carob. Involved in this languid dollop, you sense the tiny crunchy fig seeds, surprising your palate with a crackling texture. And you know you have succumbed to temptation. And that you will again. Over and over. Every single holiday.