Most of the English websites and guidebooks focus on Mértola’s fascinating history, its extraordinary beauty and its proximity to a national park, but if you explore the Portuguese and Spanish websites then you will discover they are drawn to this sleepy town for very different reasons. In fact what draws them is here is proudly proclaimed at the northern entrance to the town.
When we had first driven past the artwork a few years ago I hadn’t really noticed the words. I had simply thought this was a rather splendid piece of art welcoming visitors to Mértola and celebrating the wildlife of Alentejo. However this year on our stroll back from dinner I finally took in what it said. It is a celebration of the local wildlife but not quite in the way I had first thought. Take a took at what is written underneath Mértola. Yup this town is Portugal’s hunting capital!
There are around 130,000 hectares of municipal hunting areas and hunting reserves and thousands of hunters descend each year to shoot wild game including hares, rabbits, partridges, deer and wild boar. For the past seven years a hunting fair has been held in October to celebrate this fact. A significant proportion of the fair is given over to all things gastronomic. I would enjoy those elements of the fair as I love eating wild game and the way it is cooked in Alentejo is superb. However I know not everyone enjoys meat so if you are a vegetarian or vegan here’s a great site hosted by Wendy which explains how you can survive a few days in this town. The only thing I would add to what Wendy has shared is please be aware that the stocks in dishes will always be meat-based, and also check they have used olive oil rather than another favourite – lard. I’m hopeless at photographing food so cannot share with you what we ate on this night, so let’s return instead to the art. I had admired this work in the daytime but at night it looks absolutely glorious.
By the way did you notice my title? This is a Six Word Saturday. A few more than six again I know Debbie but there are six species in the photographs and I have managed six on my other blog!
Similarities between here and there grow more and more abundant. Here hunters have their picnic during the hunter season too. I’m not a fan, the noises scare the dog and I fear to wander around in case who might be shooting there – but neither do I say no to meat dishes… Boar in chocolate sauce is a specialty.
ah now I have heard of chocolate in chili, but not with boar!
Here is a nice article with the recipe. 🙂
Oh wow – this looks and sounds amazing. Not come across anything quite like this here yet.
Fascinating, I love the animal sculptures and hope they’re not the only animals left standing after the hunters have done their worst!
I know! I must admit as much as I enjoy the game I am in too minds about the whole thing. They do though actively care for the reserves and animals, and it would seem they have created a balance of conservation and hunting so hopefully . . . .
I don’t eat meat so it’s not for me, but enjoy!
My step-daughters tell me exactly the same . . . . and actually wild game is one of the few meats I will eat.
The animals on the sculpture all look so joyous! I’m an anti-hunting veggie so I guess this is not the place for me 🙁
It is a fabulous sculpture isn’t it . . .but I agree probably not a place for you to visit in October. Other times of the year though you would be ok as it is possible to eat vegetarian.
What a find. I’d love to visit to sample the food. I love rabbit and hare as well as game, but we so seldom find it now in the UK, although I have been lucky in Spain with rabbit. Thanks again for the interesting post – another bit of paper to add to my ever-growing file on “Things to do when next in Portugal”!
The only game I don’t eat is rabbit and hare . . .got a blind spot there!! However it is very popular in Portugal so like in Spain you will be able to thoroughly enjoy it.
Salute! Everyone up here in Vermont (it seems) is into hunting. Not me, though; I’m happy just to spot the wildlife. Thanks for the cool post.
Thank you Ron 🙂 So glad you enjoyed . . .and yes I don’t hunt either. I’m too much of a townie!
Love everything about Portugal !
So do I!!
Goodness, you’re a smart one this morning! 🙂 🙂 And 0/10 for observation for me again. I don’t even recollect seeing this. It’s definitely an area for keeping your head down if you’re out walking though. I shall pop over and see Wendy.
You were probably too busy enjoying the views the other way!!
or had your head down . . . .we just avoid walking on Thursdays and weekends xx
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