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Lagos, sardine capital of the world

Lagos, sardine capital of the world

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by Selina Bond

The water sparkled beside me as I walked along the quayside at Lagos, in the Algarve. Not to be confused with its synonym, Lagos in Portugal is not the violent death capital of the globe; rather, the sardine capital. An off-duty fisherman threw in a handful of some edible stuff as I watched. The sea suddenly burst with life - silver bodies writhing over each other, even above the surface, gulping for the food.

Fishing here must be a blast.

It was a contrast with quaysides at home in Britain. The fish market here was stacked high with the day's catch, a wealth of species most of which I didn't recall having seen before. And yet, despite the best efforts of a few traditional fishmongers who meet the catch straight off the boats, Britain's seaside towns offered up just a few plaice, haddock and the ubiquitous sea bass on their 'fresh' counters.


Not only did the fish counters at my hometown superstores seem suddenly bleak. The deli counter of Mr Sainsbury and Mr Tesco were looking a bit sparse when I compared them with this prosaic market, an unassuming nineteenth-century building floored with cobbles. When would I be able to purchase a whole sheep's head - eyeballs packaged separately - in my local Morrisons? To say nothing of entire stalls devoted to a genus rarely indulged in the UK, namely horse flesh?

All around me Portuguese women were scooping up armfuls of provender for their evening meals. For myself, stuffed with sardine after a morning mini-cruise on a scruffy sailboat, I wanted a break before thinking about food.



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