Finding happiness in Sintra

Market products

There’s a farmer’s market in São Pedro de Sintra since the 12th century. Nowadays it runs every second and fourth Sundays of each month. It is a great place to buy local fruits and vegetables, artisanal sausages, olives and cheese. Wood-fired ovens bake chouriço bread, filing the air with appetizing aromas.

We saw a farmer selling a small capsicum frutescens tree loaded with little red peppers.  Five centuries ago, Portuguese navigators brought this plant from South America to Africa, where the Bantu people called its fiery pepper “piri piri.” From Africa, the Portuguese took the plant to India where it changed the course of Indian cuisine.

How could we resist bringing home this symbol of the first age of globalization? “Trim the tree in March and you’ll have piri piri peppers between August to January,” advised the genial farmer. We got into the car feeling ecstatic at this unexpected find. Who knew that happiness is a piri piri tree?

The São Pedro market is located on Largo D. Fernando II, São Pedro de Sintra.

7 thoughts on “Finding happiness in Sintra

  1. I find everything about Portugal glorious; its people, the food, the countryside,…. everything,,,and Sintra is a fairyland

  2. My father always had a piri piri plant in the garden in Portugal, and now I also keep one in my conservatory in London. It keeps on producing the little peppers until quite late and then goes to ‘sleep’ for a while, but it comes back to life in Spring. The one I have at the moment is not the original one; the weather being what it is, I have had to replace it. But it is not difficult to grow from seed and it is very useful for caldeiradas, tomato rice, curries…Haven’t been to Sintra for years! As a youngster I did walk up to the Palace (several times), but I couldn’t do it now…

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