Portuguese Fish Cakes and a Rookie Mistake

Portuguese Fish Cakes and a Rookie Mistake

Identity K travel blog

travel blog

It was laundry day. Some days, you’ve just got to get the essentials done. I easily found the nearest laundromat in Portimao, loaded the machine, inserted the right coins, and pressed start. Success. I had one hour eleven minutes until I would once again own clean underwear.

I left the laundromat in search of lunch at the main marketplace, and to my dismay found it was closed from 2pm to 5pm. Alas. It was only 1:17pm but I was hardly surprised.

I walked back down the street, spotted a Mercadoria and tried the door. To my fright, I toppled a huge tower of stacked trolley baskets that had been barricading the door, and sent them crashing to the ground. I apologised profusely to the empty shop until a lady came and confirmed that a) the shop was shut b) I can’t speak any Portuguese, and c) I had done no damage.

I soon found a good-looking blackboard with a few options on it. After communicating poorly with the tanned, toothy, old man inside to order Menu 1 (€3,50), I was guided to a seat and asked “beber?”. We settled on ‘manga’ iced tea. ‘Sopa?’ ‘Si’. I was soon slurping some thick, tasty vegetable soup.

A weathered women ate alone nearby and when her soup was cleared, she was brought a bocadillo. Together we watched the Portuguese news on the television, and I saw Donald Trump from a foreign perspective with subtitles. When my soup was cleared, I was unsure what to expect, but I still had a napkin-wrapped knife and fork in front of me. Mr Toothy crept into my peripheral vision carrying a plate… yes! When it was placed in front of me, I did a huge smile and said ‘gracias’. Oops. I meant ‘obrigada’.

On the plate was a pile of plain white rice, some green salad, a handful of chips (chips! I hadn’t had chips in months!) and… battered fish. I was stoked and starting devouring. I soon realised that inside the battered fish was actually more batter, in a cake-like fishy consistency, mixed with herbs and peas. Amazing! I savoured each bite, but hungrily wanted to eat this forever. When my plate was clean as new, I reached for my phone and opened Google translate and wrote: “Thank you. I am from New Zealand and I don’t know any Portuguese. The meal was lovely. Thank you for having me”. He read it out slowly in Portuguese and smiled, “obrigado, obrigado. Nova Zelândia?”
 
I followed him to the counter to pay; he fetched a woman from out back and they had a discussion. I had an inkling this was the moment where they would decide a new price based on the information I had just provided in trying to be friendly. “Siet euros” he said. I handed him a 10 and he handed me 3. He ripped me off. I didn’t argue. They were some brilliant ‘bolhinos de bacalhau’ –  classic Portuguese fishcakes, I later learned. And my laundry was almost done when I got back to the laundromat. Today was a good day.


Add Identity K to your subscriptions feed

Identity K travel blog



Leave a Comment:

Or Sign Up To Leave A Comment

To notify a previous commenter, mention their user name: @peter or @peter-smith if there are spaces.


Create Your Free Travel Blog

Join others and Track That Travel

Join The Travel Community

Track That Travel

travel blog, free travel blog travel blog, free travel blog travel blog, free travel blog

® 2018 Track That Travel