An afternoon of Algarvian traditions

Yesterday I mentioned that throughout the east Algarve there was going to be live music today provided by grupos de charolas. Well to my delight we heard some of it.

These musicals groups are of varying sizes, some with lots of brass instruments and others more reliant on accordions. All though as you may have spotted in my photographs have three or more musicians playing the castanets and tambourines.

It is believed that the ‘charolas’ date from Roman times when there were solstice events to greet the god, Janus. Even relatively recently they would still have walked door to door in late December and early January welcoming in the new year, these days however they are more likely to be found on stages organised by the local councils and parishes. They still though move from parish to parish playing their music and singing their songs. The first group we came across were playing outside the grandly named ‘Pavilhão de Eventos’.


It isn’t obvious from this video, but they were very loud. It was therefore with some delight that we discovered a second group not far away playing for those sitting down to an early lunch in one of the many food tents at Monocarapacho’s monthly market. They were not so loud, and there was no singing suggesting they were at an earlier stage of the performance.


The music was not the main reason though we had chosen to spend ‘O dia de Reis‘ in Moncarapacho. I was keen to attend the 1ª Mostra de Xarém! The poster!So learning from the game fair we got there dot on time to be sure of food and a seat! I know it is unheard of to be on time in southern Europe but for food events it seems to be essential! Xarém is a traditional Portuguese dish, which seems to have originated in Olhão and the surrounding villages. It has Moorish roots and the main ingredient is maize (cornmeal). The cornmeal is slowly cooked in water and then additional ingredients such as clams, bacon and peas are added.  It is available in restaurants, but I was intrigued by the idea of an exhibition.

They had four variations available, and we tried two Xarém de Ervilhas (with peas) and Xarém de Marisco (shellfish). The one with peas had a larger grain and also slices of sausage, and the shellfish one was mostly clams and tasted of the sea. They may not look it from my photographs but they were both delicious.

We half considered trying the other two but by this point the pre-payment queue was quite long and the music incredibly loud. So instead we headed back out to explore the monthly market. The vegetables didn’t look as good as Olhão’s farmers market and there were few cake stalls, but the charcuterie stalls were excellent and the gypsy market fascinating. We will definitely be back again! By the way in case you are wondering, yes we did finish the day with Bolo Rei, well it is O dia de Reis!

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

24 thoughts

  1. I love these traditional events that happen throughout the year.. You wonder if the next generation will keep it going.. we are privileged.. 😉

    1. I really hope so, there were lots of young adults and also scouts so I’m hopeful, IF they all stay. The rural areas suffer enormously from population decline

  2. I knew the food would lure you. 🙂 🙂 Still no wandering camels? The charolas in Tavira were quite loud but we had front row seats in the sunshine and were perfectly happy.

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