From the immense sea off the coast of Portugal, the soaring promontories rise to the green-studded plain of the montados wearing the golden tones of the land. We are beyond the Tagus, a region with more than 26 thousand square kilometres, divided between Upper and Lower Alentejo and which has the longest river that crosses the country as a border, to the North, and the Algarve, even more to the South. It is worth mentioning the importance of the Sado River, in the Setúbal Peninsula, and Guadiana, which wanders in the eastern part of the Beja district, enters almost the limit of the district of Évora and defines the border with neighbouring Spain.
The slightly undulating landscape appears throughout this Alentejo, with reliefs in the interior of the district of Évora and more accentuated in the district of Portalegre, with granite outcrops to complement the line described by nature. The natural setting is now converted into the built heritage, full of old houses, from the past, from our history, now in the itinerary that takes us to the huge lake of Alentejo, named Alqueva, located on the border between the districts of Évora (North), and Beja (South), a reservoir of one of the most elementary resources of the populations of the region, water.
The inhabitants of Alentejo count the nimble gestures repeated for infinite generations. It moves in the land, in our land, source of food for the human being, base of the flora that gives us food and shade. Wisdom is taken in the hands to treat animals well, a source of livelihood. It moves in the matter that turns into what we eat. From an Alentejo clinging to its roots, the object of a valuable gastronomic legacy combined with tradition preserved by people.
Alentejo inland, here is Dona Octávia, the face of Salsicharia Canense, in Sousel, she is the guardian of the chores to make sausages, among other products, 100% Portuguese. The same customs are aligned with the daily practice of SEL - Salsicharia Estremocense, in Estremoz, a family business represented by Mário Arvana and whose raw material has the origin of its products in the Alentejo pig. An example of this is the work that has been done by Francisco Alves, responsible for Porcus Natura, headquartered at Herdade de S. Luís, in Montemor-o-Novo, a company focused on the creation of Alentejo pigs amid the main scenario of the Alentejo.
Ducks, chickens, turkeys, pheasants, goats, rabbits, pigs, mares are part of the cast of BioAlentejanices, in Sousel, by João Honório and Ruth Mendes, producers of vegetables, fruit and aromatic herbs, grown in communion with the land and in deep respect by the cycle of each food.
Nuno Serra goes further. At Herdade do Val das Dúvidas, a property located between Portel and Vidigueira, the biodynamic calendar is a transversal practice. The approximately two hundred fruit trees, the olive grove, the montado, and the cattle breeding are in absolute respect for nature. The alignment with the world outside of man remains in continuous action at Quinta Anema, in Courela da Ponte-Velha, in the municipality of Montemor-o-Novo, where Jan and Elisabeth Anema produce Gouda cheese from the milk extracted from their cows fed without hurry. The same wander is intrinsic to the beekeeping practised by Francisco Cortes, the face of Apicortes, a family business with six decades dedicated to the production of honey and beeswax, in the municipality of Odemira, with fieldwork being a constant. The reality extends to Herdade do Freixo do Meio, in Foros de Vale Figueira, Montemor-o-Novo, where Alfredo Sendim's agroforestry is based on the regeneration of species, to implement more resistant trees, and simultaneously on the allied economic succession to the harvest of raw material, of product, for the human being. And behold, the montado comes on the scene again, in addition to other areas reserved also for animals, which need food and, at the same time, fertilize the land, the same land that gives us food.