Castro Marim pays tribute to Algarve’s delicious ‘cataplana’ stews

Castro Marim is paying tribute to the Algarve’s traditional ‘cataplana’ stew with its annual ‘Festa da Cataplana’, which started on Sunday and will run until October 17.

Say organisers, the gastronomic event will this year aim to counteract the “devastating economic effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused”.

Twelve restaurants are taking part and serving at least two kinds of ‘cataplanas’ at “attractive prices.

Cooked in a copper clam-shaped pot, cataplanas are made mostly with shellfish but can also include several other types of fish, as well as meat.

“Although seafood cataplanas are the most sought after, restaurants are also serving octopus, codfish, monkfish, goat and pork loin cataplanas,” organisers say.

There will also be live music at the participating establishments, giving the event a whole new cultural side.

“The Festa da Cataplana aims to promote and bolster culture, the economy and local gastronomy by attracting people who seek quality and a different kind of food, thus bolstering the local economy which is particularly fragile this year after a summer marred by a pandemic that led to losses in the tourism sector and trebled the Algarve’s unemployment,” the local council says.

Participating establishments include A Chaminé, Bate Que Eu Abro, D. Rodrigo, Fernando, Infante Panorâmico, Marés II, O Charco, O Infante, O Pescador, A Quinta do Guadiana, Retiro dos Caçadores, and Zé da Tasca 2.

Organisers recommend booking tables in advance and respecting all the usual Covid-19 guidelines, such as disinfecting hands, wearing masks and social distancing.

“Little is known about the origin of cataplanas in the Algarve, although all signs point to it having been created during the time the region was under Arab domination,” says Algarve tourism promotion website VisitAlgarve.

Its clam shape may have been inspired by the wealth of shellfish that could be found along the region’s shores, the website adds.

There are even records of how the cataplana was used centuries ago, having being placed on coals in a hole in the ground and being covered in sand.