10 June 2016

To DeRego's Bread: Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas

Happy June 10th, Portugal Day!  Or Day of Portugal, Camoes, and Portuguese Communities {Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas}.  If I was not already at home in my jammies, I'd pick up a bag of Portuguese Biscuits, made from Tony DeRego's grandmother's grandmother's grandmother's {I think that's the right number of grandmothers, but I most likely am mistaken} recipe.

I know next to nothing about Portugal, its culture, cuisine, or de Comoes.  But since wiki never lies to me, and I trust wiki implicitly, allow me to pass on some tids and bits garnered from a skimming of various wiki posts about a few things Portuguese.  So, let's begin with its location, Location, LOCATION.

Portugal is the western most European country.  This means it borders Spain and is the very long and narrow country with many sea ports into the Atlantic Ocean.  And while it's not bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Portuguese foods and flavoring share many of the same influences.

If you are interested in the history of this country, Luis de Camoes's 16th century epic poem {Os Lusíadas} of just under 8900 lines has enough fact thrown in with the fantasy to more than acquaint you with Portugal's roots, heroes, and language.  Doubtful there is anything I could add to de Camoes's thoughts, so I'm just going to summarize that the Iberieans, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and the Romans settled in the area and then were ousted by the Visigothic and Suebi Germanics, and then those goths were invaded by the Moors, who were then expelled too.  Eventually tho, in the twelth century, Afonso Henriques became King and unified some peeps and then spread their dominance into other parts of our world, the first global empire.  But ya know how it is with being king of the hill, everyone else is always trying to knock ya down and claim your territory, so eventually Portugal itself became slim and trim, with lots of colonies elsewhere, like Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, Brazil in South America, and lots of Caribbean Islands.

There were lots of eras, rulers, revolts, and reigns over the years, what country hasn't gone thru that?  Now Portugal is a member of the European Union, with no other territories, tho Portuguese is the official language in Brazil.  The climate ranges from snow to arid to tropical to volcanic, and includes diverse terrain as well.

Skipping over a huge amount of textbook stuff, I'll just say that there is a tremendous amount of governmental, economical, financial, import/export, military, transport, tourism, science and technology, urbanization information to delve into, if that's your thing.  We all have hobbies, get in there and muck about to your satisfaction.  I'm comfortable not knowing all that, it's enough to say, "Portugal has a rich, well developed history within most any social institution, including education, health, religion, family, etc."

Even tho I like culture of a particular people more so than governmental, military, sports, and economics, like architecture, dance, literature, cinema, music, and visual arts; it's the cuisine that sings to me most.  It snags my attention and fills me with a hunger for spices, flavors, meats, veggies, and herbs that are uniquely combined and prepared into meals, desserts, and even drinks that I've not yet experiences.  So let's see what Portuguese delights we can find, shall we?

Fresh breads, fruit, yogurt are served to breakfast, along with coffee similar to espresso {bica}.  A typical lunch might take a couple hours, eating leisurely, with a few courses including soup {which may be caldo verde, with a potato base, along with kale and spicy sausage}.  Dinner might not occur til later in the evening than most of we Americans are used to eating.  An early sup is served at 8pm, some lasting til ten or midnight.

Olive oil serves as base for most dishes, along with garlic, parsley, and herbs.  Common spices include saffron, chili pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, and vanilla.  A wealth of vegetables make meals healthy.  Meats in addition to fish, include:  lamb, chicken, pork, and beef.  Cheeses are also plentiful.

Fish and other seafoods figure into the Portugal diet, because both saltwater {Altantic Ocean, seas, and bays} and freshwater {rivers and streams} are so prominent throughout and around the country.  Dried cod is prevalent in cuisine, along with grilled sardines, pork, and beef.  Rice stewed in blood is a regional dish {I can probably pass on that, right off hand, but prepared right, I could probably give it a try}.  Wine is plentiful, such as Madeira, and so is the pastry.  Flour, eggs, and almonds can be prepared in so many delectable ways that I'd never tire of it.  Altho, I do love me a good rice pudding with cinnamon, as well.

Portuguese heritage is not something I can claim, but it sure sounds interesting and I feel full have reading about the various foods.  Almost full, that is.

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