Lisbon Sardine Festival – The Feast of St. Anthony in June said an update that hit my inbox a few days ago. No it’s not – it’s a religious event where the Lisboetas celebrate St. Antonio with parties in all Lisbon’s neighborhoods.
Already last week the first outdoor tents opened here in Graca – and last night when we walked to Chinatown through Mouraria restaurant there were colorful garlands tied up between all the houses, tents on all squares where the local sports clubs, Unions, scouts, groceries etc serve fast food from the grills that cover everything in the smoke from the sausage, bifanas, and sardines.
We just love this time of the year. It’s very colorful, crazy and very lively with happy people everywhere. But sardines? No way!
We are fish lovers. So to us it was strange that we didn’t like the sardines we forced ourselves to eat every year when we saw them on the St. Antonio Grills.
From the first bites we knew that it was a mistake – the sour hick-ups from the heartburns prepared us for the following days unpleasant after taste.
Don’t eat the sardines until Carlos says its OK
That was Catarinas solution to our ‘problem’.
A BIG surprice to us – she was the first (but ot last) Portuguese to tell us the ‘truth’. But not only did she run the best Tasca in town – her husband comes from a family of fishermen and brought the fish she served from her small kitchen (our second home in Graca). In other words: She knows what she talks about!
A month later we got a phone call: They are here…
Intuitively we knew what she meant and rushed to the restaurant where all our local friends were already sitting at the table waiting for the new sardines to get served.
Catarina was right. The fish she served had nothing to do with the bad-smelling, fat tasting ones we we’re used to eating at the festivals a month before. And at all the previous years festivals.
Since then we have never touched the sardines before the season starts at the end of July – beginning of August.
Maybe the sardines were better back in the days before Tinder when St. Antonio was a festival where singles meet other singles… or something like that (St Antonio is called the matchmaker). But for reasons unknown to me St. Antonio is now promoted as the festival of Sardines.
There is NO reason for not going with the flow and getting a sardine or two. Just don’t let it frighten you from trying them again when real sardine festivals are much later.
If you – like I do – insist on
waiting then NO PANIC.
Next to the sardines you will find Bifanas, pregos, chorizos and other local delicacies that goes fantastic with a Caneca (large beer) or an Imperial (Small beer) or a glass of vino verde.
And if you can’t resist the sardines – go ahead. Even the Portuguese do that. But just keep in mind that the ones you eat have nothing to do with the beauties you get served in August. And if you wake up with severe hangovers – then you know why 🙂
Have a fantastic Festival!!!
NOTE: This is a repost from July 2018. Catarina’s Tasca is closed. Today Taberna do Mar has taken over her premises where they serve the best fish menu in Lisbon.
But we still call her to get updates on the sardines. When they arrive we go to Cova do Vapor and eat them