Lenda das Amendoeiras em Flor

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No tempo em que o Algarve estava sob o domínio dos mouros, um certo príncipe casou com uma princesa que veio das terras frias e sombrias do norte da Europa. Apaixonado, o príncipe levou a delicada princesa para viver nas terras quentes e soalheiras do Algarve.

A  princesa causou grande espanto entre as gentes algarvias. Todos admiravam a brancura da sua pele e os fios dourados do seu cabelo. O seu sorriso e gestos delicados conquistaram o coração das gentes do sul, agora muito orgulhosas da sua nova princesa.

Todas as manhãs a princesa passeava pelos campos  entre os pomares e os riachos, cirandava feliz entre o casario caiado de branco e as janelas bordadas de azul. Apreciava a cor das laranjeiras e das romãs coradas de vermelho. Apreciava a doçura dos figos, o sabor dos medronhos e as sombras das grandes copas das alfarrobeiras. Apreciava o voo do açor, dos rouxinóis e das cotovias. Parecia feliz naquele reino quente e distante, pois estava muito apaixonada pelo príncipe de pele morena que cheirava a terras quentes e a especiarias doces.

Apesar da sua paixão, quando o frio caía sobre os campos e despia os montes e as árvores, ela sofria muito porque se recordava da sua terra distante com os campos brancos, cobertos de gelo e neve. Lembrava-se dos mantos de neve que cobriam as terras do norte e ficava triste e saudosa. Quando vinha o inverno, do seu rosto alvo corriam lágrimas desconsoladas.

Um dia, o príncipe encontrou-a num pranto e perguntou-lhe por que razão chorava assim tão intensamente. Ela confessou que tinha muitas saudades da sua terra natal e dos campos brancos cobertos de neve. Confessou que tinha saudades das árvores enfeitadas de branco e que ficava triste por vê-las despidas com os seu magros ramos à mercê da chuva e do vento.

O príncipe, decidido a trazer alegria ao coração da sua princesa, reuniu todos os seus homens e mandou plantar campos de amendoeiras por todo o seu reino para que quando florissem, as suas brancas flores dessem à princesa a ilusão da neve. Assim, talvez ela  ficasse curada da sua saudade e voltasse a ser feliz.

Então, na Primavera seguinte, um certa manhã quando a tristonha princesa acordou e se aproximou da janela do seu quarto,  viu que tinha acontecido um milagre! As amendoeiras estavam todas cobertas de flor e os campos estavam brancos e alegres. Quando os raios de sol poisavam nas suas flores pareciam neve a brilhar.

Ano após ano, primavera após primavera, o rei mouro e a princesa nórdica esperavam ansiosos pelo maravilhoso milagre das amendoeiras em flor.

E foi assim que  começaram a aparecer as amendoeiras em flor nos campos algarvios…

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Legend of the Almond Tree Blossom

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A very long time ago when the kingdom of the Algarve was ruled by the Moors, an Arab Prince fell madly in love with a Princess that came from the wintry lands of Northern Europe. The Prince married the young Princess and they went to live in the sun-kissed lands of the Algarve.

The smile of the beautiful Princess caused great wonder among the folks of that southern kingdom, they admired her fair skin and her golden hair. They admired the softness of her voice and the colour of her eyes.

The princess herself was very content to be in the warm lands of the south. Every morning, the Princess enjoyed tranquil walks along the sleepy villages and sunny paths. She was awestruck by the whitewashed houses with doors and windows trimmed in hues of blue. She cherished the juicy oranges and the scarlet pomegranates. She enjoyed the sweetness of the strawberry tree, the aroma of the figs, and the cool shade of the carob trees. She treasured the cry of the hawk, the nightingales and larks. She seemed happy in that hot and distant realm.

In spite of living far away from her cold land, the fair Princess was truly in love with the dark-skinned Prince that smelled of sweet fruits and spices. However, despite the true love she felt for the prince, when Winter came she pined away because she longed for the white soft fields of her native land, covered in ice and snow. She missed the whiteness and the mantles of snow of the northern distant lands. Tears ran down her fair face and she was sad.

One day, having found the delicate Princess in tears, the Prince inquired about the reason for such sorrow and grief. She confessed that she missed the white snow-covered fields of her far away kingdom.

Determined to bring joy to the heart of his Princess, the Prince assembled all his men and ordered them to plant fields of almond trees as far as the eye can see, so that when they were in full bloom, they would give the Princess the illusion of snow. The almond blossom would warm her heart and she would be cured of her longing.

Spring soon came and one morning when the Princess approached the window of her palace, she could not believe her eyes! The almond trees were covered in bloom and the fields were white like snow shining in the sun. Again tears ran down her fair face, however, these were tears of joy.

And so year after year, the Moorish King and the Northern Princess eagerly waited for the wonderful miracle of almond tree blossom and …finally, they lived happily ever after.

Weight Conversions

Weight ***** UK/ USA units ***** Metric units
1 ounce ***** 1/16 pound ***** 28 grams
1 pound ***** 16 ounces ***** 453.5 grams
1 kilograms ***** 35 ounces ***** 1000 grams
1 kilograms ***** 2.2 pounds ***** 1000 grams

50 grams *** 1.765 ounces
100 grams *** 31/2 ounces
250 grams *** 8.825 ounces
500 grams *** 1 pound + 1.65 ounces
1 kg *** 2 pounds + 3.3 ounces
½ ounce *** 14 grams
1 ounce *** 14 grams
¼ pound *** 113 grams
½ pound *** 226 grams
1 pound *** 453.5 grams

50 gramas *** 1.765 onça
100 gramas *** 31/2 onça
250 gramas *** 8.825 onça
500 gramas *** 1 pound + 1.65 onça
1 kg *** 2 pounds + 3.3 onça
½ onça *** 14 gramas
1 onça *** 14 gramas
¼ libra *** 113 gramas
½ libra *** 226 gramas
1 libra *** 453.5 gramas

O chão do pinheiro

 

Os acontecimentos trágicos destes últimos meses deixam-nos, numa palavra: tristes. São vidas inteiras devastadas, esperanças perdidas…verde feito cinza. Chão queimado.

Para além da tragédia humana, indizível, somam-se outras tragédias, outras perdas. Dou comigo a pensar nos pássaros que perderam o seu ninho, nos coelhos presos na tocas,…e na jovem raposa que no verão encontrei perdida à beira da estrada. Era tão delicada, tão indefesa….

Dou comigo a pensar nas gotas de suor, há muito desaparecidas, daqueles que com o seu esforço plantaram cada árvore, afagaram a terra e acreditaram…

Dou comigo a pensar nos velhos que com as suas casas viram arder o ânimo, a força e a coragem…..e nos novos que ficaram sem memória e sem verde…

E aqueles que viram o lume devorar o trabalho de uma vida, de tantas vidas…sonhos feitos em pó…vidas caídas…

Se a perda das nossas florestas, das nossas azinhagas e das nossas matas constitui uma profunda ferida ecológica, não menos constitui uma perda de história, histórias. Lugares que já não são. Caminhos despidos. Marcos cravados no chão, símbolos do nada. Pedras esquecidas. Lenho seco.

Aos que ficam cumpre-nos reedificar, replantar …cumpre-nos arregaçar as mangas ….e acreditar.

Aos menos afetados cumpre ajudar a renascer das cinzas o lenho seco e a paisagem negra. Cumpre-nos reconstruir memória e construir futuro.

Cumpre-nos viver, sem nunca esquecer….

 

How do you say “rabanadas” in English?

 

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Don’t you dare say ‘French Toast’!

Rabanadas are almost like French toast…but hey!… they are not French…they are ultimately Portuguese and every Portuguese Christmas table proudly displays “rabanadas”…

This type of “pain perdu” recipe is quite common in many countries…. where there was bread, there was “pain perdu”, lost bread…

The use of ‘old’ bread is so common that the earliest  reference to French toast appears in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes that dates back to the 4th or 5th century…

The term Apicius comes from the bearer of the name: Marcus Gavius Apicius, and  has long been associated with  refined appreciation for food.  Marcus, a Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury, lived sometime in the 1st century AD. He is often considered to be the author of the book that is erroneously  attributed to him.

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The text is organized in ten books:

  1. Epimeles — The Careful Housekeeper
  2. Sarcoptes — The Meat Mincer
  3. Cepuros — The Gardener
  4. Pandecter — Many Ingredients
  5. Ospreon — Pulse
  6. Aeropetes — Birds
  7. Polyteles — The Gourmet
  8. Tetrapus — The Quadruped
  9. Thalassa — The Sea
  10. Halieus — The Fisherman

The fried bread recipe was inserted in The Gourmet book.

Clearly, there are many translations and variations for this dish…as frying stale or old bread was a common strategy to upgrade taste and make what was once “perdu”, lost, a heavenly delicacy…

Here is the Portuguese way…that is, rabanadas…which ..of course…are unique…

Ingredients
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of vegetable/olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup luke warm milk **
8 slices of white bread

(** some more recent variations use cream or condensed milk instead of plain milk)

Combine spices and sugar and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Whisk together the spice mixture, eggs, milk and pour into a shallow plate. Dip the bread into this milky mixture and then dip  in the egg mixture …fry the egg-coated slices until golden brown,  flip to fry the other side.

Let the slices rest on parchment paper so extra oil is absorbed and toast do not get a soggy feel…rest is king…..

Typically these slices are sprinkled with cinnamon and white sugar.

Recently a creamy smooth egg sauce has been added to many “rabanada” recipes…also raisins or nuts are added…

(first) 10 things to eat in Portugal…

1-Caldeira de Peixe / Fish stew
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Should you be in near a coastal area, fish stews are really a must-have! They are delicately seasoned so the taste of the fresh fish can prevail. Eating Portuguese fish stew is like taking a bite of the sea!
Restaurants near the coastal regions are probably the best choice, Nazaré, Figueira da Foz, Mira, Costa Nova and Espinho are famous for their fish stews…

2- Leitão/ Roasted piglet
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Best Leitão can be found in the centre of Portugal, specially in the town of Mealhada. I am particularly keen on the Restaurant “Rei dos Leitões”- you will not forget this gastronomic experience. Leitão is roast piglet scented with garlic and pepper…mouthwatering…

3-Feijoada
Bean stews are very popular! You can find them on many menus, particularly at lunch time: seafood bean stew, pork bean stew and even octupus bean stew (my favourite!)!

feijoada

4-Cozido à Portuguesa
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Unique combination of beef, pork, chicken and sausages generously cooked with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Sounds boring, right? Wait until you taste it. Nothing like a Portuguese cozido…

5-Bacalhau à lagareiro
I would say my parents’ house is the place to eat the best grilled cod in Portugal….I am lucky! Whatever, one thing is for sure..If you see the word “lagareiro” on the menu…it is goooooood!!!!

bacalhau-a-lagareiri

6-Línguas de Bacalhau / Cod fish tongue
Cod fish tongue. Yes, cod fish tongue. You might be asking how big can a cod fish tongue be, right? Well big enough to have an overwhelmingly fresh sea flavour…You can have these made in rice, in a soupy pasta or pan fried…

linguas-de-bacalhau

7-Sardinha assada
This dish is not available all year round…summer months are the best, when sardines are fat and plump! Portuguese, no doubt…

sardinha_assada

8-Arroz de Marisco / Seafood rice
Coastal restaurants will treat you to a perfect seafood rice. I suggest a small restaurant located in the seaside town of Praia de Mira called Tézinho. Seafood is served in a miniature boat and a pot of rice is served on the side!

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9-Arroz de Polvo / Octupus rice
Not easy to find on the menu, but if you are lucky enough to encounter this dish…indulge…

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10-Queijo da Serra e marmelada /Cheese from Serra da Estrela
Mouthwatering combination. Portuguese marmelada is made from quince..it melts in your mouth with the cheese…(and red wine, of course)…

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Good morning!

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Today is the first day of school for most Portuguese students…

No matter how much one likes books and learning, you can´t help being haunted by a nostalgic feeling.

Missing summer already…

Well, so as to make this Monday morning sweeter…..I have decided to bake a batch of blackberry and strawberry muffins. Just my way of adding some summer colour to the day…

This recipe is actually a combination of a couple of recipes I read online. So I have just mixed one egg, 1 1/2 cup of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla extract and three tablespoons of soft butter. Mix well and add to the dry ingredients: two cups of all purpose flour, one tablespoon of baking powder, 4 tablespoons of sugar and  a pinch of salt.

Happy breakfast and have a nice day…