Delicious Portugal

MargaretCafe_PasteisDeNataThanks to Chef Victor, over on Facebook,  who directed me to his recipe for ‘real’  Portugese tarts  and started me on a journey through the wonders of the cuisine of Portugal and the food of my ancestors on one side of my biological family. I had these cooked for me by one of my half-sisters who used her/our father’s recipe and which I forgot about once our reunion was over, done and dusted, finished and as completed as it will ever be. Given the mass of information from that side of the family, some of it very unpalatable and hard to digest, it was no wonder I just let it all lie and didn’t revisit the scene of the crime. However, thanks to Victor  I decided to look at his delicious page Delicious De Portugal Melbourne ( which inspired me to check some recipes and to realise that much of the food I love, particularly in Winter, is deeply connected to Portugese food, ingredients and  cooking methods. I adore it all – chorizos, all the sausages, seafood, meats, vegetables, beautiful egg-filled puddings with cinnamon and vanilla, simple sometimes with plenty of dairy products and rice. orange and vanilla roll This gorgeous roll on the right is made with oranges, chocolate and looks succulent. The photo is Victor’s and the making of it by his competent hand. Next time I’m in Melbourne I will be visiting to sample the real deal, to get back to the food of my ancestors and to feel completely at home, comfortable, well-fed and complete. Food can do that!!      Thank you so much Victor  for  pointing out  your page and for starting me on this quest, which I hope will result in  many nourishing meals – nourishing for the body and for the soul!

I wrote the above just over one year ago. In that year I was distracted by family matters, illness and engrossed in living life. Not much happened in my quest for real Portugese food and my blog went rather quiet. However I’m back and so much has changed in that year. Our lives and our living spaces went through  huge upheavals, as did our diet and our cooking. I am now the proud Mother-in-Law of a man who enjoys food, knows his food, can talk food and is a Vegan. The result is a large collection of vegan recipes on Pinterest and a board on food and wine generally. It is a delight to have a man in my life who can talk about food and cooking and who is proficient in the kitchen. There is nothing I like better than  a man showing off his skills in the kitchen! Simon Bryant is one of my food heroes and his teacher/master, the great Cheong Liew has had due homage paid to him over this last week during one of our food festivals. For a half hour of afternoon delight these days, nothing serves as well as watching Simon and cook Maggie Beer perform magic tricks with local foods. I couldn’t quite stomach watching them cook Guinea Fowl, while my own were outside the window calling me! Otherwise the vegetable and fruit dishes please and it’s possible to marvel at what the food budget for the show must be. Salt-bush grazed lamb, crayfish, many types of  local fish, the best of which go to Asia these days. I live in what must be one of the best food and wine bowls in the country. There is nothing we can’t grow or purchase or have gifted to us or swap. We can live cheaply or extravagantly depending on budget and inclination, food preferences and principles. One day I’ll set myself one of those challenges – living well, healthily and cleanly for $10 per week!

I’m still enjoying cooking, but have to pace myself and the prep can take all day. I have good days and bad days and what I cook is tailored around that. I have things in the freezer, although am not a great fan of frozen foods. I have some things which are very quick and easy to prepare and serve and venture into the more complicated when times are good. How hard is it to steam an excellent piece of Tasmanian salmon or make a delicious rice pudding  with coconut milk and coconut sugar in the air fryer? I love my appliances and they’re well-chosen and well used – mainly a slow cooker which also steams, sautes, pressure cooks and keeps warm, and the Phillips air fryer. It’s a comfort food thing and there are days when a well cooked but simple dish can make all the difference to state of mind, level of pain and mood. Of course there are those days when it’s necessary and uncomplicated to resort to a take-away, my favourite being that wonderful comfort food sweet corn and crab soup. I am still struggling with the many symptoms of fibromyalgia and find my tolerance of foods varies from day to day. This may well be about build up of histamines and salicylates, but seems to be a constant quest to get it right and suffer as little as possible. Sometimes I succeed, as I did yesterday, Mothers’ Day, and I was blessed with as near perfect a day as possible. Again this year I didn’t throw a wobbly, get upset or sad about my own mother and mothering and concentrated on enjoying time with the next generation. I’ve lost count now of how many years that is, but at least three! I hope many of you have reached the same stage or are reaching it. Getting there is painful, difficult and can be slow. As in most things adoption, we primarily need to be patient with ourselves, treat ourselves kindly and forgive ourselves for what we may see as ‘mistakes’ or false turns in the road.

Thinking still of all those adoptees who may have done it tough yesterday and hoping you are pulling through and making good use of any new learning that may have come your way because of it. Nothing is wasted or needs to be wasted – in the adopted life, just as in cooking!  ❤ ❤

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