I have been happily married for over 35 years. My wife and I love each other very much. But about five years ago something happened to change our relationship for ever. I remember the day well. It came from nowhere; a passion so consuming it changed everything. Ironically, it all started on my 30th wedding anniversary, a day when I should have been purely focused on the woman I call my wife.
The other lady – let’s call her Sonia to hide her identity – is beautiful, tall and slender whilst possessing a real fire inside. She has added so much to my life. At first, I kept this obsession hidden whilst I worked out how she would fit into my existence. When a new relationship starts, it is very experimental. You work out what is good for both of you. Sometimes the magic happens, other times it doesn’t. You figure out what is good and repeat, only to find it is even better the second time!
Even now, five years on, my secret obsession just gets better. You may be wondering where my life partner fits in all this … all I can say is that she is understanding and loving, and has realised that I needed more than her in my life. I would go as far as to say that she has actively encouraged me to explore and experiment with Sonia. In fact, my wife even introduced us and told me to go and play!
As I sit here on a beautiful, warm Algarve day with the jacaranda blossom casting a beautiful light over my garden and the hoopoe birds frolicking in the orchard, I sit with Sonia to my left and my wife to the right, contemplating how great life is …
Now is the time to confess all! Sonia is not a person but my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, purchased for me by Melanie, my wife, for our 30th wedding anniversary!
I have loved cooking barbecues for many decades, and this has been fuelled even more by living and working in the Algarve for the last 15 years. Gas barbecuing was my thing and I enjoyed nothing more than entertaining at home and trying different recipes, and even starting to make a few up for myself based of the wonderful meat, fish and seafood we are blessed with in Portugal.
But when I got my smoker (Sonia), it took outdoor cooking to another level. Smoking food is far more than cooking – it is a leisure activity. The whole principle is to cook “low and slow” whilst introducing flavoured woods to get unique depth of flavour that simple charcoal or gas barbecuing just cannot match.
When I say “low and slow”, I really do mean it. For example, cooking a whole shoulder of pork, the cheapest and toughest part of a pig, can take in excess of 12 hours to reach the correct temperature. But what you get at the end of the smoke is the most flavoursome and tender pulled pork. Stir in some barbecue sauce and apple juice, slap this in a brioche bun, topped with homemade red cabbage coleslaw and you have heaven on a plate, with a firework of flavours going off on your taste buds with every mouthful!
Add to this the joy of cold smoking, where instead of heat you buy, for about €40, a small contraption that looks like a snail shell where you place sawdust and put a small tea light underneath to let the sawdust slowly smoulder. Place this at the bottom of the smoker and lay a piece of salmon (already cured in the fridge with Algarve flower sea salt, soft brown sugar and some wonderful gin for 24 hours) on the rack above.
Let the salmon sit in the cold wood smoke for up to eight hours and you will have the best-tasting smoked salmon ever, and certainly 10 times tastier than the expensive vac packs you buy in the supermarket.
I could go on and on and bore you to tears with my obsession for smoking food. However, if I have captured your attention, just go to the Portugal Resident website to find some of my favourite barbecue and smoking recipes, and you too could have another woman in your life!
Happy grilling and smoking!
Chris and Melanie are owners of Moveison Outdoor Living in Lagos and sell Weber and Beefeater gas and charcoal barbecues and a range of outdoor kitchens. Their store is situated on the EN125 just east of Lagos. Visit www.moveison.com to see their ranges.
By CHRIS WINSTANLEY