Every culture or human group has its own conceptions about what’s good food, healthy food, or just feeding yourself. When you put in a group people from different backgrounds some dynamic has to emerge in order to eat with harmony. So I will describe the particular harmony that emerged when you put Americans, Germans, Portuguese, Indians, Italians and Argentineans. There are some common background if you trace back in time. Clearly Argentinean food has roots in the Italian and Spanish ones. Americans have some German, British and we can say that they are absorbing a lot more. Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are not the same but they can be put in the Mediterranean group (or maybe I’m wrong, not an expert here. Clearly Portuguese and Italian are different, but both will not consider a good meal without a good wine partner, some common link here?). All except Indian are clearly European group and at least share a taste for equalized flavors. Indian and many Asian foods are similar in the sense of adding a twist to every plate, mixing sweet, chili and sour… I learnt to love Asian food. But the rest of the family keep the taste for more balanced flavors and not chili at all.
How many type of foods are? Would It be possible to make a trace map, like a genetic one for populations for food?
Because we all have some experience with the shortcomings of flavors and ingredients of Timor-Leste we have some high expectations for our Portugal trip. And we were looking forward to the culinary side of this gathering.
This is clear by decoding the messages before preparation:
- Still thinking about meeting all of you in PORCO!
- My dear Porco Lovers - There is no food shortages of that kind in Porkland
- If we manage to find pork meat we can make sausages for sure, but apparently there are serious food shortages (not only eggs and butter but also pork meat) in Dili at the moment!
- I think we absolutely need to organize a dinner to facilitate the planning... any sausage?
- a gypsy market on saturday morning with fresh fish for sure-that we can all walk to
- egg shortage time, haven’t seen butter since before Christmas
- We need to ask Michael for a pork.... but who prepares it????
- we are just back from a short one-week trip to Mallporka - we had the ham from the leg of your sample, deliciosa
- T-L folks can continue piggy procurement discussion for next sausage-fest
- If not pork, we can try pasta, and do several sauses
You do not need to have special and high cryptographic skills to decode!
Eating around Portugal
As soon as we arrived in Lisbon (Alber, Emma, Eloisa and Silvio) we were starving from 42 hours of flight (log entry June 27th). But the area around the place we rented was not very helpful to calm our appetites. Better forgetting our first meal in Portugal. But next day (log entry June 28th) we went on gathering expedition looking for a good breakfast. And Lisbon surprised us with the pasteleiras. Old coffee shops were we can have our beloved “café con leche y medialunas”. In Portuguese “café con leite e bolos”. We have also “bolas de fraile” or “berlinesas” and sandwiches of ham and cheese. And here come the cultural aspect: “it is not ham, it is fiambre”, the pastelero corrected me. Ham is reserved for the real ham, this is just machine/industrial derived from pork meat slices… Ah, Ok! And bread! And more bread and several types of bread! (if you do not cook your own bread, the options in Dili are scarce, but improving I have to admit)
Images worth thousands words, and you can see the faces of satisfaction with our breakfast!
After a fantastic breakfast we keep moving to meet a friend of us and her son and we have a lunch in a cute bistro old fashioned in the Chiao. And then we met with our friend Paulo and his son Miguel for a trip to the outskirts of Lisboa to Sintra and we ended in Cascais having lunch: polvo lagareira (octopus), bife a la portuguesa con batatas fritas, sopa and gambas al ajillo (I do not know how to say this in Portuguese, Camarão alho?)
Next day, June 29th, we met with the first group of Naufragos and we walked around the city center and Alfama of course talking about food and where to eat. We enjoyed a nice walk, Carlos and Eve did much better than any tourist guide or book and we stopped to have a fantastic lunch with meat (pork, beef and fish), soups (a must in Portugal culinary tradition) and polvo lagareira for me (again)
The next day (log entry June 30th) we drove up north with one stop at Obidos where soup was a must for Eloisa (she is more than happy, she loves soup) and some Ginja in chocolate glasses…. yes, you eat them when you finish your drink.
And the same night we had dinner at Nazare where we have soup, beef and fish! (no pictures this time).
And in July 1st we met with our hosts in Coimbra and what to do? Of course have lunch and fish!
And the same day by late evening we all meet in Noronha’s family farm in Estarreja and what did we do? Of course we plan on the next dinner, and the next breakfast and the next lunch!
And our time in Estarreja was a continuous debate on what to eat next, and late and long breakfasts, and long conversations around the table, both kids and adults enjoyed this time!
If you find yourself stranded in a lonely island…
And have to choose for a partner I have a strong recommendation: Frabrizio! Our friend and amateur chef, professional class!
Think whatever you want, but to survive in the calories aspect and the mental side of the equation you will need food. And much better if the food is fantastic. And Fabrizio delighted us with Spaghetti with Squid Ink! And fish! And beef!
But having fantastic dishes is a collaborative effort, and Carlos’ mum completed the menu with fantastic soups, a few selections of hundreds of recipes to cook the bacalao and incredible desserts! And Eve introduced some needed punch with the indian curries and Elena completed the italian menu. And the rest? We looked and learnt! And we ate! and enjoyed! And we tried to contribute with drinks (wines and beers and Gin Tonics!)
I think that you didn’t try Portuguese food if you do not try Porco! And as you can see Pork was in high demand and Carlos’ uncle, Tio Paulo, did his best to make the group happy with the traditional Porco Asado Portugues:
And in several stops along the road we have Pork in several different fashions:
And we rest
And after a while we were asking for water, vegetables and some fruit…. Carrots please!
And I reached 93 Kilos! Although the diet looked very healthy for the other members of the family!