The Arabic word xerém means a "meal made of grains". This humble dish made of corn meal (polenta) originated in the Algarve and has made it to the traditions of countries like Cape Verde and Brazil. The Algarve was the last portion of the Portuguese territory to be conquered from the Arabs so it is no wonder that their influence is marked. The word Algarve itself comes from the Arabic al-Gharb and the region was considered as a second kingdom (the full title of a Portuguese monarch was king of Portugal and the Algarves) until the proclamation of the Portuguese republic in 1910. Xerém is often associated with a poor meal (sometimes called the poor man’s rice) though the truth is that when expertly made with clams this is a real delicacy. Next time you’re in the Algarve head to the town of Olhão and taste this local speciality.