Displaying items by tag: Culture

Saturday, 17 April 2021 10:01

The Rooster of Barcelos

If you've ever been to Portugal, you surely noticed the fact that in all the souvenir shops you can buy a (usually black) rooster with an exuberant red crest and cheerful eyes. This is the rooster from Barcelos. What's the story of that rooster?

Centuries ago, a pilgrim was on his way to Santiago de Compostela, and he made a stop in the town of Barcelos, in Northern Portugal. There had just been a case of theft in Barcelos, and the people were eagerly looking for a culprit. No one believed that the man was an innocent pilgrim, and he was found guilty of the theft. His punishment was harsh: he would be hanged.
However, the man insisted that he was innocent, and asked if he could speak to the judge. That was allowed. He was taken to the judge's house. The judge was just sitting at the table with some friends, about to eat a nice grilled rooster. The man again pleaded for his innocence, but the judge did not believe him and insisted on his conviction.
The condemned then pointed to the grilled rooster on the judge's plate, and predicted that the animal would crow as proof of his innocence. Of course no one believed that. T
he man was taken to the gallows, and just as the rope was tied around his neck and they were about to hang him, to everyone’s amazement the grilled rooster began to crow. The judge declared the convicted innocent after all, and the man was released.
The man continued his journey to Santiago de Compostela, returning a few years later to Barcelos, where he erected a monument in honor of Santiago and the Blessed Virgin.
The Galo de Barcelos, as the rooster is called in Portuguese, therefore symbolizes a lot of luck!

This stained glass Galo de Barcelos is a decoration in one of the Casas Fruta houses, made by Iris Franken

Published in Silver Coast Blog
Tuesday, 20 October 2020 13:21

The canned sea

Portuguese people love everything that comes from the sea. Not only fresh, but also dried, like bacalhau, or canned, like sardines.

If you ever visited a Portuguese supermarket you probably have seen the large amount of canned fish and seafood.
Once there were hundreds of canning factories in Portugal, where fresh fish was canned. Now there are not many left, but the work often has not changed. There are some factories where everything is still done by hand, they don't use machines. Well, ok, there are 3 large machines: to cook the fish, to put the lids on the cans, and to sterilize the cans. Many generations of mostly women have been doing this work for decades. Some pieces of vegetable in the can? It's done by hand. Cutting off the sardine's tail to fit the can? Done by hand. Fill the cans with oil or sauce? Done by hand. Wrapping the cans in a piece of paper? Done by hand. And they do it very quickly! 

Vis inmaken vroeger

And really, you can taste it. It's a labour of love. And also because the fish is cooked before canning it. The factories that use a fully automated process cook the fish after canning it, which means the liquids and oil stay in the can. And that gives the fish a totally different, a not very nice, taste.
In this video you can see the process at Conservas Pinhais: https://youtu.be/jpTwHAt0Zxw

Not only sardines are canned, but also tuna, bacalhau, squid, clams: you name it and they can it.
Some factories even have their own shops throughout the country, where you can buy all the canned goodness. If you visit Óbidos, you really want to visit the Comur (Conservas de Murtosa) shop. It's beautifully decorated, loaded with beautiful cans. They even sell cans with years printed on them, they make a nice birthday gift for someone (or for yourself).

And don't worry, the cans are not that old, it really is fresh produce.

Published in Silver Coast Blog
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Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:59

Fado

Portugues sentimental song full of melancholy

Fado is the most popular folk music in Portugal. This Portuguese of way singing about life can be traced back to early 19th century. It originates from the poor districts of Lisbon. Fado literally means “fate” (from the Latin word “fatum”), and fado is part of every Portuguese person’s life.
The songs are about things that happen in life, melancholy, sadness, nostalgia for what no longer exists, but also about happiness and feasts. The Portuguese word for these feelings is “saudade”. This is such a typical Portuguese word, in other languages there is no translation for it.

There are two varieties of fado, namely those of the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the most popular, and was orginally sung by women only. Coimbra's fado has a more academic character, and is exclusively sung by men.

Since the revival of fado in the nineties of the 20th century, fado gets more and more famous internationally, and reaches more people every day. Amalia Rodrigues is considered to be one of the most important and influential fadistas ever.

In both Lisbon and Coimbra there are some fado restaurants where (professional) fadistas (fado singers) perform their songs. Lisbon’s districts Bairro Alto, Alfama and Mouraria, are very well known for their fado restaurants.
Also in the Costa de Prata, several restaurants offer a complete night out, with diner and music. Prebookings are usually mandatory.

In November 2011 the Portuguese Fado was added to Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

An example...
Published in Nature and Culture
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 19:32

Pia do Urso Sensory Eco-Park

Experience magical sensations!

Nature is the keyword in the Pia do Urso Eco-Sensory park. Natural scents, sounds and shapes take your senses on a magical trip.

This the first park especially for the visual impaired in Portugal. It's aim is to offer new experiences with different senses, like touch and smell. But do not misunderstand, the park is a wonderful experience for everyone!

Traditional features and materials are also part of the park, so visitors can also learn about the history of the area.

Along the paths you also cross natural stone bassins, which were formed during the course of ages by erosion. They say dat long ago bears used these bassins as bathtubs.

In the shadow cast by the enormous oak trees around the parking you can relax and have a picknick.

Published in Nature and Culture