Spoons and Beers

By Melissa

We’re back! After 18 long Covid-induced months of absence, we returned to our new home in Cascais, Portugal. We bought our apartment in May of 2019. We were still working full time so were not able to return until November. We spent two months getting settled then headed back to the States for what was to be a few months, then well, our plans, like everyone else’s, got put on a long hold. It was such a long absence that everything feels new again. We’ve been relearning our adopted home and falling in love all over again. We find ourselves saying “oh yeah” about more than a few things. Some wonderful, like the spectacular scenery and lovely walking trails, some frustrating like the inexplicably useless paper towels or lack of vodka. My favorite “oh yeahs” are quirky and uniquely Portuguese.

  1. The Portuguese Pick – This is a term David coined to describe when our forward progress is suddenly halted by a glacially moving family that obliviously commandeers the whole path or sidewalk. They are everywhere. It’s a little frustrating but it’s also pretty endearing. No one tells them to more over or move faster. People either politely climb over bushes to get around them or just adjust and walk at the slower pace. Perhaps it’s their way of telling the rest of us that we need to slow down a bit.
  2. Vinho Verde – I do find it odd, and a bit sad, that no one here drinks Vodka but they don’t. I just need to get over it. Fortunately, they drink a lovely little beverage I’ve spoken about before and will again because I am smitten. It’s called Vinho Verde (green wine) because it is harvested very early before the grapes mature. It is a crisp, sharp white with a light effervescence. I could bath in it.
  3. Canned fish – So hard to explain and do justice to this one. Beautiful tins of delicate seafood in lovely Portuguese olive oil, best served on fresh Portuguese bread. Yum.
  4. The beers and the spoons – A photo accompaniment is needed to truly understand this, but there is really no medium quantity in Portugal. This is particularly true with beers and with spoons. They are either tiny or they are enormous. When we first arrived and were hunting for all our kitchen supplies, I asked a puzzled Portuguese shop attendant where I may find the regular spoons. He gave me a bewildered look. It is not hyperbole to suggest that the Portuguese use spoons for two purposes, to stir sugar into tiny espressos or to consume huge mouthfuls of soup. That’s it and they have very specific tools for those two jobs. I guess the same is true for the beer. They either just want the slightest sip of they want massive quantities and, again, they have the vessels for those two scenarios. Problem solved.

God, I love this country.

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