Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meu amo Lisboa! (My God..I love Lisbon!)

Let's get right to the heart of this blog: the food. Since last writing, I have continued on my quest to eat foods I hadn't dared try in the States. My brain is reeling trying to remember the stories that go with each of my gastronomic episodes.

First...the hell with dieting. I have never exercised so much in my life, but just ain't gonna happen. There is no way I am spending four months living without carbs, pork, pork fat, beer, wine and my pasteis de nata. Fine! As always, I needed to get the part about dieting out of the way. I obviously feel compelled to mention it in each and every blog. I did try very hard to take a break from my lovely pastries with custard cream. I threatened Steve with his life if he came into the house with yet another little white box filled with these incredible delights. But after two days without feeding my addiction, I looked at him with very forlorn eyes and he knowingly trudged to our favorite pasteleria to get me my drug of choice: NATAS!!!!!

Since I last wrote I have eaten the following and I consider them definite "firsts" for me:
  • arraia grelhada (grilled stingray) It was YUMMY. Of course I don't have pictures because I always eat things and then remember to photograph the food after the fact. Oh well, believe me it was great. I didn't even know these things were edible, but I have a trusting nature when it comes to food, especially when I eat it at Chapitos!
  • chocos grelhados (grilled cuttlefish.) I ate this today in a wonderful restaurant in Graça called O Piteu and at least remembered to photograph before inhaling! Tender and delicious, it was served in normal Portuguese style with a boiled potato and some salad. (Now I know where all those pet parakeets get their cuttle bones)
I have a box of natas in my hand for later. mmmm

grilled cuttlefish

I think cracas will be my next "first". For those NOT in the know....cracas means barnacles. You got that right...barnacles...those little things that cling to docks. (not snails!) I think they eat everything  you can think of here in Portugal..and I am here for the adventure!
Events in Rossio Square
Steve and I were walking through Rossio square one afternoon and saw two groups of students facing each other. One group of students wore bizarre foolish outfits and hats while the other group garbed themselves in all black. Each side would sing loudly to the other and this continued for days every afternoon. (It is still going on!) Anyway....we hadn't a clue and decided to investigate. Comes to find out this is called Praxis (the art of practice). It involves upper class students (those in black) hazing the incoming freshman in a kind of "joy to the freshman" ritual. It has quite an interesting history and I urge you to check out this ritual. Put your cursor over the word video  and click to see the movie I took.
the freshman
Portuguese Folklore Festival
Last weekend while sitting on our patio, the music from this very same square seemed louder than usual. Although I had sworn to Steve we needed rest and shouldn't go out again (!!!) we couldn't resist finding out what we were missing. Trudging back down for our second or third time that day we discovered hundreds of people gathered in front of a stage with townsfolk in costumes singing and dancing to traditional folk music. They were dressed in clothing typical to a earlier era in Portuguese history and they all reminded me of the pictures I have of my grandparents when they lived in eastern Europe. The stage had singers and musicians of all ages. Put your cursor and click video to see and keep your eyes on the two little boys in the background. One is playing the accordion, the other a ukulele and I fell in love with both of those cuties. Here are also some pics:

 Planes and Trains and Things That Go.....TOO FAST!!!!!
On a daily basis I think of this Richard Scarry book. Transportation vehicles around where I live in Lisbon travel way too fast and is the only thing you will hear me complain about. (okay, so I have complained about the BAZILLION stairs, but nothing else.) But after almost being run down by a police vehicle yesterday, I decided to tell this story. I will begin with the sidewalks. There aren't any to speak of. At least not sidewalks that I can relate to. They are hundreds of years old, less than a foot wide and made of cobblestones (which are very slick by the way). Oddly enough they are slanted toward the street. My hips and butt are wider than these sidewalks. I used Steve for my model. His hips are smaller than mine. See...I kid you not! (about the sidewalk...not our hips!)
Steve (Mr. Wizard who knows EVERYTHING) tells me, they were designed  to help drain water. The curb is MAYBE one inch high so really, we aren't talking about any buffer between driver and pedestrian.  Of course, "way back when" they had no motor vehicles.

The problem:

Around where I live, there is an large amount of handicapped people on metal crutches. It makes me sad. Young and old limp around the city, some missing a particular limb. They hobble around these streets, and a great number are young folks.  Now we have handicapped people in the US, but I am definitely seeing more around the general area where we live. It appears glaring to me and I have been obsessively asking my Portuguese friends about it.  There doesn't seem to be any rules of the road in the smaller sections of Lisbon and with the very narrow streets and sidewalks, the fast cars, this just might be part of life. If were to live here permanently...I guess I would go in to the metal crutch business. I would be rich! The advice from my friends here is to walk very carefully...especially during the rainy season.

Random Thoughts:
  • I finally bought a pair of sneakers and walked four hours in them my first day.  Mistake. I have a MASSIVE BLISTER!
  • The other day it was drizzling. We were on the road. I started to slip and fell into a woman with my hands out. (for those Seinfeld experts...they were real, but not very spectacular!)
  • oh yeah...Steve finally started teaching and lecturing He was great! His students keep apologizing for not knowing English very well. (a)they speak English beautifully and (b)Steve speaks Portuguese..NOT AT ALL! They all think he is wonderful!
  • I made best friends with Mormon (that's his name)...owner of an Indian restaurant. He is getting me my much sought after copper bowls!!! THANK YOU MORMON.
  • and lastly....I am never going home. I will sit forever at the miradour in Graca, gaze at my lovely castle and sip my bica. is sooooo good! Adeus meus amigas!