Jaquinzinhos are one of those foods that we love to order for American visitors. Usually a guest will first look a bit wide-eyed, then swallow hard and decide she’s going to prove her cultural openness by trying one.
This is when I say, “You start with the head.” My wife adds, “That’s the best part.”
(Yes, we’re kind of mean. But it’s fun.)
The typical guest assumes we’re kidding. We assure her we’re not, and prove it by lustily biting the heads off our own fish. Eventually she takes a tentative bite…and then her eyes usually get big and she says, “That’s actually good!”
Because they are. Actually, when done properly they’re delicious — heads, tails and all. On a nice warm day, sitting at an outside table with a cold beer in hand, they’re fabulous. We ordered some for our Oregon guests last week, one of whom is a declared non-lover of seafood, and she quite enjoyed them. Photographic proof was taken, so that she could demonstrate back home. She doesn’t like beer much, either, but she happily slurped a glass with her jaquinzinhos. I confess to feeling a bit of pride in the power of my adopted country to make converts of so many.
(Note to Algarvean visitors: a restaurant in Santa Luzia (Tavira) called Alcatruz makes fabulous jaquinzinhos, and their clams are very good as well.)