With the Tagus at its heart, freshwater fish are key to regional cuisine. These include eels, eaten fried or in the bread stew ‘ensopado’, the shad and bread ‘açorda’ ideally in spring when the fish is breeding and more flavoursome, and lamprey, which gourmets consider particularly good.
A region of marshy lands and pasture where the cattle are left to roam free is certain to have meat on the table. A kind of meat broth ‘sopa da pedra’, original to this region but now gone nationwide, is one alternative or alternatively try ‘Ribatejan migas’ a delicious combination of vegetables and bread.
Sweet highlights include the ‘arrepiados’ and ‘celestes’ from Santarém, the ‘queijinhos do céu’ from Montalvo, the ‘trouxas de ovos’ from Chamusca and the ‘tigeladas’ and ‘palha’ from Abrantes, all very rich in eggs and sugar.
And naturally, such delights come accompanied by their own respective wines. Try the Ribatejo Wine Route to find out more about this region’s wine and landscape. In Almeirim, Cartaxo, Santarém, Chamusca and Coruche, you can find some of the major national producers of high quality wines.
In Santarém, the National Agricultural Fair, with bull running and fights and other rural competitions takes place in June while the Festival of Gastronomy comes in October/November to provide another fine occasion to get to know the gastronomy and wines of the Ribatejo.