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History of Tinned Fish in Portugal

Canned fish has been a staple in the Portuguese diet for over a century, with a long and fascinating history that is closely tied to the country's economy and culture.

The tradition of canning fish in Portugal dates back to the late 19th century, when a Frenchman named Georges Hénrique introduced the technique to local fishermen in the town of Matosinhos, near Porto. Hénrique had previously worked in the sardine canneries of Marseille, and he recognized the potential of Portugal's abundant fish stocks as a source of canned fish.

The first Portuguese canning factory was established in Matosinhos in 1885, and over the next few decades, dozens of similar factories sprung up along the country's coast. Canned sardines quickly became the most popular product, as sardines were cheap and plentiful, and could be easily transported and stored in the cans.

Canned fish quickly became a major industry in Portugal, employing thousands of workers and providing a vital source of income for coastal communities. The industry was particularly important during the early 20th century, when Portugal was struggling with poverty and economic instability.

During World War II, the Portuguese canned fish industry boomed, as Portugal remained neutral and was able to supply both the Allied and Axis powers with canned fish. This period marked the height of the industry's success, and canned sardines became an important part of the Portuguese diet and culture.

Today, canned fish remains a popular food in Portugal, with sardines, tuna, and mackerel being the most commonly canned varieties. Many of the original canneries have closed down or been replaced by more modern facilities, but the tradition of canning fish remains an important part of Portugal's cultural heritage.

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