I have rules when it comes to food: I don't eat anything that is not entirely dead (so, no oysters, thank you), I don't eat food that comes with it's house (snails, yeah, that kind of stuff) and I don't eat food that comes from inside other food (offal is out of question). Also, I don't like to get acquainted with my food before eating it, so no, I do not want to choose my lobster, thank you, you do it and then cook it and then present it to me on a plate, please, I'm not a monster!! (OK, slight exaggeration there...)
Oh, and I don't eat anything I don't like, life's too short for that and my mother does not control me anymore...
So when I first came to Portugal, nine years ago, and was presented with one of the local delicacies of the Algarve, the "conquilhas", my initial reaction was "no, thank you, it comes with it's little house"... But, I was assured by my boyfriend that it was entirely dead, cooked and all, and that it was really delicious and I was going to like it. I believed him. I usually do. At least enough to give it a try. And that was it... I fought him for the last one! And since then, they have become the symbol of my Portuguese holidays!
They are tiny, they are cooked ever so quickly in olive oil and garlic and fresh cilantro and lemon and the sauce they come in is just devine! You need a lot of bread, forget the diet; the conquilhas have very little meat anyway and, in all honesty, they merely serve to help the sauce travel into your mouth while adding a suttle hint of the sea to it. Just the right amount of sea, their flavour is not strong as that of bigger clams. You need bread, did I mention that? And you need to dig in with your hands, pick the minuscule clam, suck the deliciousness out of it and wipe out every little drop of sauce from the plate with your bread... Oh, believe you me, it's sooooo good!
If you add to that you most probably you will be enjoying them while at holidays by the coast in the beautiful south of Portugal with the spectacular views it has to offer, you will be in your flip flops, you will have a cold, cold beer to accompany them and after the meal you will take a nap (yep, try them at lunch, that's my advice), you will find yourself in heaven!
And you will agree with me that they are indeed "better than shoes" 😉
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