Day 19 = March 30, 2012 – Friday
Attention, please: The next few days were so boring that we are going to sum them up briefly and then change the subject to something of – hopefully – more interest.
Friday was a miserable day. We got up early to go to Sintra. I had only had 2 hours of sleep. It was pouring rain. I convinced David we could go to Sintra on Sunday, and he decided it was fine to make Friday yet another school day. I went to sleep and had nightmares and woke up in an even worse mood than I had gone to sleep in. My husband encouraged me to get out of bed and do dishes and took me to lunch at the tasca downstairs. My daughter snuggled me. I had enough energy to do laundry. They worked and played Dominion. That’s about all I know.
So…. Let’s talk about something else. How about Cooking in the Portuguese Kitchen? I have looked at countless photos of potential rentals and have my own experience here at Lisboa Patria to draw upon, so here goes! I will illustrate with a particularly unflattering photo of myself, for your amusement. (Those who were there when I scrapbooked my trip to Boston will notice a condition known as C.O.F. The rest of you will just get to see me wear something that I would not get caught dead in, in public. Because the internet is not public, you know. And no, Patti, I have not gotten rid of those grey pants yet.)
First off, there are apparently old hearth areas in many kitchens. In our kitchen, it is an open area raised up from the floor that is about four feet square. Because this is where the cooker (range) needs to go, that range needs to be pretty darn small. Ours is a gas range, which is fun, since we rarely get to cook with gas, but the oven has no temperature markings at all, just pictures of small, medium and large flames. This is a bit tricky for us when it comes to baking.
Our kitchen has two small refrigerators, which was perfectly fine since we go to the market almost every day. We keep them stocked with vegetables, eggs, ham, cheese, orange juice, and yogurt. This is remarkably similar to what is in our fridge at home, actually. Then we have the standard onions, garlic, and fruit in a bowl on the counter – again, very much like home.
So, are we not eating any especially “Portuguese” foods? Oh, we are. Yogurt, for example, is very different than we are used to, very runny and liquid-y. Eggs have these very solid, dark orange yolks, which makes for some crazy-colored scrambled eggs. The biggest difference, though, is in the meat. David has an affinity for unusual meats, so kidneys and sausages of all kinds – bread sausage, blood sausage, and unknown meat sausage – have made an appearance.
Cooking sausages of unknown origin is tricky. Obviously, they do not come in a package with directions. Are they pre-cooked or raw? Do you bake them? Boil them? If you pan fry them, can you cut them in sections first? (The internet was only sort-of handy, because so many of the recipes assume you already know what to do with the sausages, or they want to teach you how to make the sausage yourself, from scratch. This was unhelpful in the extreme.) We discovered that some fall apart if you cut them, some fall apart all on their own by busting open as they are cooking, and some release all their oil and shrink into crunchy little bits with only a bit of cooking. Every sausage-cooking night was filled with surprises.
Quinland became our go-to person for fabulous salad dressings. She learned how to whip up a vinaigrette dressing and flavor it in different ways. She made up her own version of our at-home standard, Cheese Fantastico! It was just as fantastico as the original.
I, for one, could have lived on this fabulous granola we found at Pingo Doce. Big bowls of it, covered in berry yogurt. (Quinland says, “Not yogurt covered in granola; granola covered in yogurt.” I say, “YUM.”)
Expenditures: Lunch at the tasca and stamps at the post office.
Experiences: None. Though for all I was aware, Quinland and David could have gone on an excursion all over Lisbon.