Some of the Fish I Ate in Portugal.


In Lagos, I bought three fish in the market. Then I bought capers, pine nuts, lemons, sun dried tomatoes and herbs to put in their bellies. Paula filleted one of the fish for my dad, she had learned to do it in catering college. I prepared the other two, slashed them, stuffed them roasted them in the oven. They were amazing. When we were clearing up afterwards, my dad found a stain on the roasting tray which was in the shape of Africa.

Lagos had been a European port of call for slave ships in the 18th century. Caitlin was learning about the history of slavery in school, so Paula took a picture of the converted slave market for Caitlin to show her teacher. There was a display of local crafts for sale inside the old market. The walls were cool to touch and there were tiny barred windows.

Later that year, in Porto, I had some fish in a large cafe with paintings of Aboriginal artefacts on the walls. The waiters looked like admirals in white coats with brass buttons.

We took a short train ride to Espinho for an animation festival and found a little restaurant by the beach where we had fried fillets of white fish and potatoes. The owner let us try some seasonal wine with roasted chestnuts to accompany. We went back there twice because the man was so nice. It was his wife who fried the fish and she did a good job. We had the same meal every time.

We also had horrible fish at a restaurant by the river in Porto, it made us bicker and we bickered even more the next day at the gypsy market.
We were so traumatised by the horrible fish we were scared to eat.The gypsy market was interesting, there was lots of home made implements, wooden spoons in particular and ceramics.

Then we saw an older Portugese woman having quite an ostentatious lunch on the patio of a small restaurant, so we went in there because from where we were standing, her food looked delicious. We were the last people to be served in the restaurant, they were winding down. A man took our order and a woman prepared some amazing fish for us in a very nonchalant way.
The woman who had cooked the fish took off her apron and came in to slump at a table and watch a wall mounted television. She didnt have much time to relax because her son appeared. She jumped up to give him her seat, disappearing back into the kitchen then returning with a mountain of some kind of pasta. He ate his food without talking to her and swilled it down with Pepsi.She hovered, but he ignored her.
She went back to watching the television, a Portugese language drama serial was on. It was a period piece, featuring African slaves and their Portugese masters. At one point the camera cut to on elderly black woman with white hair who's head was constrained by some kind of metal muzzle.She was crying and she seemed to be encouraging a young black man to make a bolt for freedom.

On our last day in Porto, I bought the yellow wool from a wool shop we had seen on the first day. The wool was spun for making carpets but it was soft enough to wear.

 

Fish Dress, Portugal, will be published in 2007 in KnitKnit, The Book, an overview of challenging knit practice, compiled and edited by Sabrina Gschwandter in New York City.

Dress modelled here by Pamela Kontchou. Thanks Pamela!
Copyright Mandy McIntosh 2006 All rights reserved.