My love of food was gradually developed. Like most kids, I was a picky eater. But if you grow up in a Portuguese village, it’s impossible to survive if you don’t like fish or onions. So I adapted.
Fish was probably the toughest to get used to. If you’re eating fish in Portugal, you’re either eating an extremely salty cod, or eating something presented to you with the head and bones still inside. You’d spend half your meal picking out scales and bones from your teeth, all while that cooked white eye stares at you from across the table, staring deep into your soul.
You barbarians! You cruel filthy barbarians cooked me and left my head on to watch you eat my own flesh! Have you no remorse?
My imagination ran wild, I pictured a school of mackerel gathering at night to avenge their long lost brother with their own knives and forks, riding a tidal wave to my front door, flooding my bedroom and capturing me in a net, taking me away and then- oh wow…this is delicious. This soft white meat with a little hint of lemon, bathed in extra virgin olive oil, combined with a little crunch of turnip from grandma’s garden…never mind, I think I’ll sleep just fine tonight.
Even when I moved to the United States, my mom tried to cook as traditionally Portuguese as she could. No, we didn’t have fish caught that very morning, or produce from someone we knew personally, but my mom made sure I wasn’t going to be just another one of those kids that ate chicken fingers every day. Instead I was the kid that brought leftover cod with potatoes and eggs, kale soup with linguiça sausage, basically food for aliens as far as my American classmates were concerned.
As I got older, I got the itch to learn how to cook. At first I took notes, watching my mom hop from the refrigerator to the stove, pulling out pots and pans, boiling water, heating up oil, dicing up garlic, it was all too much to keep up with. I’m more of a hands-on type of guy. So through a lot of trial and error, I learned how to cook. First was the simple stuff: boiling water and putting in pasta. Then I learned a variety of ways to cook eggs. And after several tries, I finally got the hang of cooking meat and fish. I had a general grasp of things.
I’ve been able to soak in different styles of cooking from people I’ve worked with, television programs I’ve watched, and going out to different restaurants. Working in the service industry was instrumental in further development and appreciation for cooking. When the restaurant was slow, I’d stand behind chef watching him cook. He’d tell me why he did something a certain way, or tell me how his abuela would do it.
I’ve considered enrolling into culinary school, but I don’t see myself as a chef. I’ve worked a handful of years in restaurants, seeing men and women sweating behind the line on their feet for hours on end. It’s a hard job, and many of them don’t get the recognition and money they deserve. I can’t do that, but I do love to cook, and I can appreciate a good meal when I taste one. So I’ve started this blog to show readers how I do my groceries, what I cook, and where I like to go out to eat. I’m not claiming to be an expert at all in anything I do on this blog. I’m my own worst critic (as well as my mother) when it comes to my food. If my review of a restaurant doesn’t seem fair, I’m open to trying it again to see if my experience is different. An idea I’d like to explore is cooking or dining out with people who also share a love for good food. I’d be interested in receiving any sort of feedback from my readers, positive or negative, as well as suggestions of new places or dishes I should try.
I hope you enjoy all my stories and pictures!