The warning “Há caracóis” (There are snail) is scattered in the windows of several local cafes and restaurants. Just tune the look and it is easy to find such a prized snack.

The tradition of eating Caracois (specially between may and august) originated in the southerly Portuguese region of Alentejo, with influence from the Andalucia region in southern Spain. Both of these regions get extremely hot in the summer but also have the humidity that promotes snail growth, and these snails are harvested throughout the season until their supplies dry out.

The cooking broth is also very traditional with the predominant flavoring ingredient being oregano, which is a must! The other ingredients include laurel, thyme, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper and a little spice called “piri-piri”, which is the Portuguese equivalent to chili pepper.

Around here they are eaten with toast, very cold Portuguese beer and good company.

Enjoy the good weather and come to Mértola, to try and eat some snails!