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