I figure if you’re going to cut to the chase the things you need to live on, perhaps the three things in the title of this post would do just fine.
Recently, Joe Campanale Traveled To Portugal For Vinho Verde, Pata Negra Ham.
In Lisbon, the sommelier’s favorite was Cervejeria Ramiro. Go to the web site. Look at the pictures as they flash across your screen. Would you join him?
I would, no doubt.
Av. Almirante Reis, nº1 – H
Phone Number: +351 21 885 10 24
Fax: +351 21 886 16 47
Everyone seems to like Italian food. I certainly do. But the wild boar in Italy is often overshadowed by heavy sauces. I prefer the Portuguese way with the wild pig, especially how they do it in the Schist Villages at Casa do Zé Sapateiro.
Which leads me to a Portuguese culinary site in the English language, fairly rare, called “A Portuguese Dish”. I particularly like the current post, Braised wild boar with corn stew: Casa do Lago.
The dish provides yet another variation on polenta.
“In times of scarcity when there was no rice and to vary from the potatoes, the corn was coarsely ground after soaking in two different water baths it was cooked like rice. Normally to the cooking one should always add a piece of fat meat, such as belly fat. When one adds more meats or sausages to the stew, it is a main course known as Rich Corns. This corn was ground in a traditional mill, powered by water. For us it is important because we don’t want corn flour, but the right grind”.
Interesting the variations on a single ingredient, eh?
So you travel to stoke your longing for the past? Do you search out places that match your remembrance of the “good old days”?
I’ll admit it: I do sometimes. Yes, I am nostalgic over real food. I’ve sawed open too many impenetrable bags of industrial chicken only to have a rotting stench billow from the industrial plastic. I’m tired of the endless battle of trying to get enormous, dictatorial entities like Monsanto to label the Frankenfood they produce so I can avoid it. My government is complicit; they reimburse the big companies for the cost of fighting logic. It is not a fair fight; I, a people, am not offered the same generosity from “my” government.
So I go to places like the Alentejo, where a slab of meat from a black-footed pig thrown on a grill over a hardwood fire and seared into a wonderfully flavorful hunk of heaven reminds me of the distance US pork has gone to become “the other (tasteless) white meat”. If I wanted tofu, I’d order it.
In any case, the Alentejo region has looked into nostalgia and has decided to embrace the concept of “genuineness”. Aren’t you surprised that “genuine” would be something you’d lust after? I mean, usually, when we lust, it isn’t genuineness we’re after. We fantasize, don’t we? We don’t want “genuine” breasts, we want them large enough to have to look like they’d have to be carried in a big cart drawn by huge draft animals except they don’t need all that because gravity ceases to be genuine around them and holds them up like they were helium filled balloons, perfect in our mind’s eye.
But the world has turned. We—or some of us anyway—lust after real food, rough and flavorful—or fantasize about a real bar you can get a cheap and good coffee and yack with the locals and even sit down at a table without having to wait for it to be vacated by one of those all-too-common antisocial idiots wearing earbuds and pounding away on a laptop.
In any case, perhaps this nostalgia, this lust for the genuine, is catching on. There’s a site for it. It’s called Genuineland and it’s about more than the Alentejo. Take a look, it won’t kill you. Not like those industrial crap chickens I mentioned.
Rock art may not be what you think. Ancient people set about carving and painting rocks, many times in caves and other sacred places. That “art” preserves well, especially the etchings, as long as people aren’t around to deface them. (It’s what modern man likes to do, unfortunately.) Rock art has nothing to do with squealing electric guitars.
So this rock art has been found on the small, oval island of Terceira in the Azores. Terceira is home to the Azores’ oldest city and UNESCO Heritage Site, Angra do Heroísmo.
“We have an epigraph from Roman times, according to two scientists who were invited to interpret the inscription, a cave art site, megalithic structures, and an important set of structures scattered throughout the islands that need to be interpreted in new ways” ~ The president of the Portuguese Association of Archeological Research (APIA), Nuno Ribeiro, revealed in the Portuguese American Journal.
Ruins here are claimed to date from the fourth century BC. Imagine being set in the middle of the Atlantic at the time!
And here’s the thing, these discoveries were all the result of an Azores vacation!
In a interview in progress for the Portuguese American Journal, Nuno Ribeiro spoke of his claims and how he was led to his findings. It all started because he had always been interested in the topic of the “discovery” of the Azores. He said, “The factor that triggered this whole process was a leisure trip I made to the Azores with my wife in the summer of 2010 to the islands of Terceira and Corvo.”
Interest is growing in the rural life and traditional agriculture. As America has been run out of real farmers by publicly traded industrial crap food corporations, tasty food has also left the building. The profit is in seeing how close these corporations can come to an industrially-modified animal-based tofu—the other white meat. Cheap and tasteless. Food you don’t say grace for, you ask forgiveness.
But there’s a movement on to get some of the taste back by exploring the way the last remaining small farmers in Europe deal with food. Portugal has just announced a new program to link up interested individuals with traditional farmers.
And you can get paid!
Farmer’s Life Experience offers you the opportunity to turn your vacation into a working experience in portuguese farms. Once selected, you will be included in a multicultural team working within a host agricultural structure. You will be paid under a contract that you sign with the farmer. ~ Farmers Life Experience
According to Portugal’s office of Tourism, there have been “40 hosting farms and about 170 participants in the last months.”
How does it work?
Here’s how the office of Tourism describes the obligations of the participants:
We also connected with several farms that invite you to come spend a weekend: one of which is in the fields of Alentejo and the other one is located at the gates of Lisbon. You will be asked to help around the farm, but also to help with your room and board by milking goats to make your own cheese or learning how to bake the bread. What we want here is to allow you to get closer to this Portugal we love so much, and to show you the simple lifestyle that we so appreciate.
It sounds like an interesting program, especially if folks come back to the US with a decent notion of what making real food is all about.
Check out the Farmers Life Experience