Loulé is a traditional Portuguese market town in the central Algarve region.
Loule makes for an enjoyable excursion, as it provides interesting historic monuments, a lively market and a traditional Portuguese atmosphere.
Loule has a pretty town centre of busy shopping streets, tree lined plazas and narrow cobbled side-streets. The town’s focal point is the Moorish inspired covered market, and this market on Saturdays expands to include the surrounding streets.
The daily market is fragrant with spices, Port wine and seafood pulled fresh from the Atlantic. Friends gossip, shoppers line up for meats at the butcher stalls, and the knife sharpener sets up shop in the corner where people bring their kitchen knives to be sharpened.
We took a spin around the market and marvel at the vast array of produce grown in Portugal — much of it locally. Lemons, plump tomatoes, cactus fruit, avocados, bright orange mangos, pomegranates, bunches of ripe grapes, oranges… Many of these products — like sweet potatoes. Another example is piri piri chili pepper, a favorite when smeared on grilled chicken, which was carried on Portuguese ships to Goa, India via Mozambique. Indeed, the Algarve’s cuisine is a porthole to this maritime history and cultural heritage
The seafood is glorious. The most bustling corner of the market is where the fishmongers sell enormous quantities of fresh fish. The Algarve’s seafood bounty is not limited to fish. There are stalls piled high with clams, oysters, mussels, cockles and whelks.
At the Loulé market, you can also find great gourmet gifts to-go: tins of sardines, wine, bottles of piri piri hot sauce, and confections made with dried figs, crushed almonds and honey. In fact, entire stands are devoted to these specialty sweets, often made with carob. Dried figs are assembled into the shape of flowers decorated with almonds. Pastry shops are brimming with walnut cakes and filho, sheets of fried dough dusted in sugar. Marzipan, fashioned into colorful shapes, is another favorite treat in the Algarve.
Definitely a town worth a visit while you are visiting the Algarve.
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