Tins of fish

May 10, 2017

Our second day of exploring Lisbon with Steven, Genessa and Travis found us diving into the culinary side of the city with a food tour with Mariana from Lazy Flavors. The tour came highly recommended by our ex-travel companions and fellow food lovers, Annie and Jonah. After we bid adieu to the couple back in Chiang Mai, they made their way across Europe spending a month in Lisbon back in February. We’ve been the lucky recipients of their pointers and suggestions ever since we began following in their journey’s footsteps, this tour being an excellent example.

Annie detailed the tour they had with Lazy Flavors over at her blog, writing about their adventures in the Time Out Market. Always being down for a market tour, we requested a similar trip when we booked our day. Mariana was quick to point out that because we were booking on a Monday the majority of the market would be closed. She asked if we would be willing to let her take the reigns and to put together a tour instead.

“Um, yes please,” was our reply.

Mariana took us all over the city, into tiny hole in the wall shops selling bifana and beer, and Portuguese charcuterie and wine. As we walked the streets of the Alfama, she pointed out Fado bars, artisan cafes and delicious brunch spots for us to try all while telling us the history of her breathtaking city. Even still, there was one stop that stood out above the others in my mind for one very simple reason.

Tinned fish.

In the United States canned fish is notably horrible. The tuna you get from cans is packed in water and is usually very dry and splintery. Unless you mix it into a salad with mayo, mustard, celery and/or – my favorite – pickles, it’s pretty worthless if you ask me. I basically never reach for the cans of fish that collect dust in my pantry, unless it’s to throw them into into an emergency survival kit.

In Portugal it couldn’t possibly be more different. They only pack the highest quality sardines, mackerel, tuna salmon, and shellfish, tucking them into these tins along with high grade olive oil, spices and peppers. When you plate this fish, they have rich colors and syrupy sauces laden with curry, chili, tomato, or herbs. On top of that, these little tins of gold are packaged with the most phenomenal designs, with illustrations and typography that harken back to the pre-world war eras when the canning industry truly boomed.

This shop was really a treat, we each ended up with boxes of tinned fish to be eaten on crackers or bread along side some fresh cheese and wine. Seriously, what could be better?

We had such a fantastic time this weekend with our Seattle friends. Truly, the best memories we’re going to have on this adventure will be those we craft with visitors from home. So thank you, Travis, for hanging out with us all weekend! I hope your flight home was as good as to be expected and that whenever you break open that fortified wine it brings you back to your time running around with us in the Portuguese sunshine! ☀️

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