Just in case you thought I had finished boring you with my vacation pictures I should warn you that I just downloaded them from the iPhone. There are still hundreds to delight you with – it will be like your Uncle Fred and Aunt Millie’s snaps of their trip to Florida that you and the family so looked forward to every year.
Now I know from sampling my friend Maria’s mother’s cooking a few times back in the 1980s that cod was a mainstay of everyday Portuguese cuisine but I had no idea that sardines play as important a role. They are a staple on the menu of most Portuguese restaurants. Laurent had delicious grilled sardines at Adega de Bélem, a wonderful local eatery near the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (I opted for the best lamb stew I have ever tasted). They of course were not what we think of as sardines in North America – each was about eight inches long, plumpish and grilled to perfection.
However fear not, if your preference is for the canned variety there is a group of stores that specialize in canned fish from the coasts of Portugal. And one of them is devoted exclusively to the sardine: O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa (The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines).
Situated in Praça Rossio the shop is obviously aimed at tourists – but guess what we were??? well duh! – and in more than one comment it has been referred to as the Disneyland of canned sardines. And when I saw the windows Disney was the first thing that popped into mind. What’s so special about can of sardines from OMFSP? Well to be honest it’s just that: a tin of sardines in oil. But… BUT the tin is specially designed and year specific. The year appears on the top of the tin with information about something important that happened and the names of two or three people who were born in that year. When you buy several tins they give you little paper bags in the form of envelopes so, if you were so moved, you can send a tin to a loved one.
Yes it’s a big marketing scheme but we fell for it – hook, Ferris Wheel, Merry-go-round, line, fairground calliope, friendly costumed staff, and sinker. As I said – hey we’re tourists! And we’re helping some poor Portuguese sardine fisherman, okay? said he perhaps a touch to defensively!
Further alone in the high-end shopping district of Chiado a very trendy shop featured these ceramic sardines in their main window.
A little research revealed that they are by the Bordallo Pinheiro ceramic studio. Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro was a famous caricaturist, watercolourist, humourist, and ceramic artist in the 1800s. The panels, pots, table centerpieces, fountain basins, pitchers, plates et al created in his faience factory in Caldas da Rainha became highly prized. The company still produces high end ceramics for home decorating and entertaining – and these sardines!
These, to say the least, unusual souvenirs of Lisbon have been created in the satirical spirit of Bordallo Pinheiro’s caricatures of yore. The original design from the 19th century has been adapted to highlight the June festival when Lisbon celebrates it’s Patron Saints – and sardines – with a wide range of carryings-on.
We didn’t buy one but if this one had been around I would have been sorely tempted. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately for our Visa card – Mouraria’s Door was sold out however a left click on the photo will take you to all the other Sardinha de Lisboa that are available.
On this day in 1837: The Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, the only battle of the Upper Canada Rebellion, takes place in Toronto, where the rebels are quickly defeated.