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Sausages, hot dogs and hail seitan

In Culatra Island Festivities there’s a bazaar.
Every year, on the first weekend of August, we have the Culatra Island Festivities in honor to the sailors patron saint. Amonst other tradicional games and attractions, there’s the bazaar. Nothing is sold at the bazaar. Well, something is solt – lottery. Yes, I also don’t undersant why is it called a bazaar, but it is what it is.
The bazaar is a wooden shed where some funny rolled pieces of colored paper are sold. Some pieces of paper have numbers on it that correspond to different items, from hair elastic bands and bottles of wine to the most bizarre things someone remembered to donate to the church.
There was one time I won a can of sausages and a bottle of mustard. According to my memory, on that afternoon was the first time I ever tried a hot dog.

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inhame caril

Taro Curry

In the island of São Jorge (St. George), particularly in the fajãs of Calheta, the inhame was, in times, so important for it’s people to thrive, that they were known as inhameiros (the inhame people).

The inhame was, by that time, considered the food of the poor and the slaves. Because of that, it was never submited to the dízimo (a religious christian tax). It was not a pleasent surprise when these guys found out that they would start paying it.

And worse than paying the dízimo, the farmers would even had to carry all the inhame to pay, from the fields to the collecting point. Stuff like wheat, corn or wine would always be taxed and paid in the fields, but the inhame, they would have to pay afterwards.

So, as you can imagine, carrying several kilos of inhame on your back, from the fajãs to the thorp, 500 or 600 meters all the way up, through goat tracks along the cliffs, was just an amazing experience. But giving it away to the crown at the end, was just the cherry on the top of the cake.

Thanks to this brilliant ideia, of course the farmers lost their shit and they went berserk. People died because of taro, just for you to understand how much they did enjoy that shit.

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Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagna

I like family reunions. Having the whole family around the table. Eating, drinking and fraternizing with those who are close to me. I’m very attached to my family, my friends, my roots. And that, that family confraternization, is one of the cultural heritages that I appreciate the most among the southern europeans.
When I was a kid, something that used to bother me a little, was people trying to introduce non-portuguese dishes in the Christmas meals. I used to (and I do) love traditions, specially those around the food. Christmas for me was caldo verde, boiled salted codfish with chickpeas, catshark and beans stew, bolo-rei and trutas filled with pumpkin or sweet potato pure. I could never understand why would my aunt make lasagna for Christmas, though lots of people in my family loved it.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, it’s easy for you to presume that gastronomical tradition, specially on Christmas, doesn’t mean sh*t to me anymore.
If lasagna, for you, has to be filled with minced meat and and cheese, well, bad luck for you. I’m calling this lasagna, you could call it what ever you may like.

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falafel 5

Falafel

I already mentioned my great fascination for the word tzatziki. Today I bring you me great fascination for the word falafel. If tzatziki sounds like a legendary sword from the Otoman Empire, falafel was, certainly, the name of some pharaoh from ancient Egypt.
“Falafel III, The Shining One, son of Mehotep, inherited the throne at the age of seven, succeeding to his brother Takelot IV.”
Notice that these are also spectacular names for football players.

I recall my first time eating falafel like if it was yesterday – it was in Joshua’s in the Forum Algarve when I was about 15 or 16 years old, right before heading to a tuning meeting.
I actually had no ideia what I was ordering. I just did it because it had a stupid name. In fact, almost every dish in Joshua’s has a spectacular name. But 15 years ago, in the Algarve, all that was quite new and unknown for me. I ended up eating a baguette from Pans & Company. The falafel tasted like pigeon poop.

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Thai Chickpea and Pumpkin Curry

Somewhere in a faraway summer, I worked with my friend João in a beach shack. Every sunday we used to have thai chicken curry with roasted peanuts. By that time, I was quite young, and I used to think that super hot food was for real machos.
The first time I made thai curry for my friends, me and Diogo end the up the dinner wearing nothing but boxers, the girls didn’t go further than the first bite and my friend Midário made me cook some chicken breasts for him.
The first time I made thai curry for my family, not even my father could eat. And he enjoys his piri piri sauce. The next day I took the rest of the food to my uncle’s coffee, in the Island where I’m from, and none of my father’s tough bearded friends could touch it.
Nowadays I like my food much less hot. Even Joana enjoys hotter food than me. In my opinion, when the food is too hot, you just miss all the other flavors. But I understand that in some cultures people are used to eat food so hot that they developed a higher endurance and addiction to it.
Today’s recipe is harmoniously balanced between fresh, hot and sweet. If you like spitting fire, you can always add more hot chilli peppers to it.

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