Portuguese people live for food. I mean it. It's not a hyperbole. There are no rules when it comes to stuff our stomach. We simply love to pig out, even if that involves regurgitating at some point or the eventual heartburn. So this Christmas was really THE FEAST. Eat 'til you drop, that's what I told the girls. You see, it's a simple, modest, humble home but my mammy doesn't mess around in the kitchen. Her cooking is Michelin star-worthy, she's the best traditional cook ever and if you think I'm a hard-to-impress bitch with high standards, you obviously haven't tried food as scrumptious as Laurinha's. Her passion for food is inspiring and something I take very seriously. I find it impossible to copycat her cooking skills, and everything tastes bland and boring compared to her grilled chicken (if you think Nando's is the real deal, there is something deeply wrong with you) or the rich octopus salad with boiled eggs and avocado dressing. Seasoning, cooking, digesting... it's all a ritual. Thank fuck we had some Rennie, strong tasty black coffee and liquor to help us digest... We ended up like pythons after devouring an entire lamb, unable to stand or even move. Food high!
For starters, feast your eyes on these beauties: gigantic Jurassic-looking mussels (the garlicky lemon white wine sauce was to die for), delicious cockles and oysters we shucked ourselves with a kitchen knife. We really brought the flavour of the sea to our tastebuds with this shellfish feast. Those crab claws were yummy too, add some fresh bread and butter for some heavenly pairing. Crustaceans are my most recent crush. Also, look at that cheeeeese covered in dill and thyme! YUM. Mice would prostitute themselves for a bite of that, I tell ya. Shame on me for not photographing the enormous pomegranates we had as a midmeal snack - so sweet.
Prawns piri-piri were only the chapter 1 of a gluttony party that went on for several hours. Fried cod with coriander and caramelised onions certainly made an impression on the guests but my personal favourite and the winner of the evening was roast duck rice with orange slices (the juiciest, sweetest oranges you can possibly imagine, providing a refreshing citric contrast to this epic dish) and smoked chouriço. God almighty, that shredded duck still haunts my dreams, it's one of the heartiest comfort meals we all could ever experience.
There were a few surprises that made my eyes (and stomach) sparkle. Fried cod cakes stuffed with parsley, coriander, garlic and potato mash... OH.MY.FUCKING.GOD! So, so good! An absolute winner. My mam's rice with beans - homefuckin'made, obviously - was just perfect and basically something I'd eat on a regular basis since it's Winter and carbs come in handy. Now, let's talk about squid skewers. I remember eating them when I was a kid but I think I love them more now. Bacon, peppers, squid bits, onions, chouriço... all grilled and put together for the sake of gluttony. The sauce was a lovely cocktail of olive oil, garlic, butter and lemon. Trust me, it can't get any better than this.
And then there was pork. I'm not a huge fan of pork but my genius mother can bring out the best of anything, just get her the right ingredients and she will seduce the foodies with her memorable seasoning. We've had bifanas for lunch - it's a simple sandwich, really, the secret is in the way the pork is marinated. Expect a lot of garlic, white wine and mustard. Christ on a cross, it's a heavenly snack and it's as Portuguese as it gets. Wash it down with a cold beer and you'll know what I'm talkin' about. Roast pork with pineapple in a mustardy beer sauce was also a majestic meal that we still ate in the day after since it was still tender, tasty and juicy as fuck. And I repeat, pork isn't even my thing.
One word: quails. When properly seasoned and cooked, magic happens. My tastebuds can still remember that soy, garlic and wine sauce. These birds really made up for the absence of suckling pig (ah, the sticky glaze, the crispy crackling... I could write poems about it).
As you can imagine, there is ALWAYS room for dessert. Always. There's no other way. There were many cakes, dried figs with almonds and of course many digestion helpers like moscatel, Port wine and ginjinha in chocolate cups. We got liquored up and sugar high - the highlight of the entire week was my mam's chocolate mousse with walnuts, hazelnuts and brandy. Pure gooey chocolate porn. I could watch that shade of brown forever. My birthday cake was also a surprise: strawberry (or raspberry!?) cheesecake. One year older but still eating like a pig in stained pyjamas and very gladly wearing the dinosaur socks my mam offered me. So, are you drooling yet?