Ribatejo - the land above the river Tagus
The land “by the Banks of the River Tagus” to give its Portuguese name, is a region of rich alluvial plains, pastures and farmers.
Here the attachment to both land and river is strong and in return they provide vast horizons of fields of rice, wheat, millets and vineyards and much of Ribatejo’s livelihood.
This is also area of wild bulls (it is at the heart of Portuguese bull breeding country) and fine horses. Ribatejo often comes alive with traditional festivals such as the Festival do Colete Encarnado (Festival of the Red Vest), and the bullfights, which unlike in Spain are considered an art rather than sport.
Ribatejo - bulls and tradition
Celebrations and fiestas are part of the fabric of Ribatejo life. Some of the most notable and liveliest include the festival do Colete Encarnado (Festival of the red vest) in Vila Franca de Xira, held in the first two weeks of July. Vila Franca also holds the October Fair and both festivities take in bull fighting and the running of the bulls - a la Pamplona style. Santarém holds the National Gastronomy and Handicrafts Festival in October and Golegã the famous horse fair in November.
Typical dishes include the popular Açorda
(eggs poached in watery bread with coriander and garlic), sopa de peixe
(fish soup) and fataça na telha\" (large mullet cooked in a roof-tile).
Meat here is excellent and it is worth trying out the myriad of meat
based dishes such as 'espetadas em vara de loureiro" (meat grilled in a
laurel stick). The Sopa da Pedra (Stone soup) in Almeirim is nationally
famous. Many people travel miles just to savour it in its many
specialised restaurants. With its combination of meats, beans and
vegetables it is definitely worth the trip.
The celestes of Santa Clara, the traditional cheesecakes are a great way to finish off any meal. Ribatejo also produces a number of fine wines, most of which are red wines from Almeirim, Santarém, Coruche, Cartaxo and Chamusca. The Serradayre red in particular is a smooth, light wine with a fruity taste.
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