A relatively small and humble fish, the sardine is classed as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to order the canning of sardines to feed his Empire. Sealed into tins of brine or olive oil, it was during the first half of the 20th century that the cans were given attractive packaging.
During this period, when art-deco was flourishing, skilled artists and designers were employed to draw attention to, and illustrate, the fine quality of the produce.
The original designs – commissioned by Galeria Côrte-Real in Paderne – have been reproduced by printer Peter Trew onto galvanised tin using modern techniques. The traditional designs have been turned into decorative art glowing with the original deep and rich colours. These unique plaques are an original way to add interest to a Portuguese kitchen, BBQ area or other less obvious places in the home.
They are a reminder of the time when the Algarve shore was regularly visited by great shoals of sardines. Factories in Olhão and Portimão became increasingly innovative creating sardine paste and accompaniments such as tomato sauces and oils flavoured with chillies.
Sardines are still fished off the Portuguese coast but in strictly approved numbers. The industry has received the coveted ‘Blue Award’ presented by the Council of Marine Stewardship.
Since sardines are far fewer in the Algarve, only one canning factory remains but fortunately supplies are enough so that sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines) continue to be available in many beachside restaurants. As well as the galvanised plaques, the gallery also sells tins of sardines, tuna and olive oil stylishly packaged as they would have been more than a century ago.
Galeria Côrte-Real’s new pop-up gallery is located close to the beach, above the estate agent Fine & Country in Carvoeiro.
The main gallery is signposted from Boliqueime, Ferreiras and Paderne.
It is open Thursday to Sunday from 11am until 5pm.
912 737 762
By CAROLYN KAIN
Photo: Traditional style