“Ginjinha” is a liquor made from sour cherries called “ginjas.” It is produced in various locations, including Alcobaça, Bombarral, and Caldas da Rainha. But the most famous ginjinha comes from Óbidos, a region where the Romans planted cherry trees.
There are several producers, including FrutÓbidos, Oppidum (the Latin name for Óbidos), and Ibn Errik Rex (the Arab name for the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques). Each producer has its proprietary, carefully guarded, secret recipe.
You won’t be surprised, dear reader, to know that we have our own secret ginjinha recipe. Rumor has it that our ginjinha is made only from ginjas harvested during the new moon and that it uses dew collected at dawn from the petals of wild flowers. We are neither confirming nor denying.
Imagine that the year is 1282 and that you are king D. Dinis. What wedding present would you choose to impress your bride, Isabel of Aragon? 1) a passionate “cantiga de amor” (a medieval love poem); 2) a state-of-the art ship that can crest ocean waves without capsizing; 3) silk and jewels; 4) a medieval town. If you guessed 4), you are correct. King Dinis offered Queen Isabel the town of Óbidos. And, while the gift might seem extravagant, Queen Isabel repaid it many times over by helping the poor and maintaining peace in the realm. Óbidos’ beauty is unique. Inside the castle walls it is easy to imagine we are in the Middle Ages and that we might bump into the “Lidador,” the knight who helped conquer the town in 1148. If you cannot afford giving your loved one a medieval town, you can settle for the next best thing: a visit to Óbidos.
If you’re in Portugal in July, you might want to visit the Óbidos medieval fair. It features jugglers, jesters, and jousting tournaments, all in the shadow of the majestic Óbidos castle. You can also taste the delicious pork roasted on a spit, a delicacy that, in the Middle Ages, only kings could afford.