I started writing this blog to share Portugal’s culture, traditions and hidden treasures with others who might otherwise never discover them. So you can imagine my joy and excitement when I meet others who share the same passion as me! I’ve recently come across The Undiscovered Food Stories of Northern Portugal and I had to share it with you here because, if you’re reading A Portuguese Affair, you’ll want to read this book.
Written by a Portuguese-American, Sonia Nolasco, and an American expat living in Porto, Gabriella Opaz, this book is centered on the Mercado do Bolhão, a food market in Porto filled with tradition (and, of course, food). The authors take stories from the various sellers and use those stories as a basis from which to explore northern Portuguese cuisine. From that foundation, the authors showcase their extensive knowledge of Portuguese food. Surprisingly, even locals with a lifetime of knowledge on regional dishes are taken aback by how much they didn’t know until reading this book. Three years of extensive research for this project has taken these women beyond “local” knowledge level to “expert” level – and they break it all down for you in this book.
Here’s a glimpse of the Mercado do Bolhão, featuring both authors:
In my opinion, the book’s authenticity is derived from all the individual and family stories recounted in its pages. And what is tradition and culture if not a large collection of such stories?…
Originally written in English, the book reads perfectly for native English speakers: I don’t just mean the quality of the language; I mean how accessible they make northern Portuguese cuisine, a subject which might otherwise seem daunting or confusing for those with little or no knowledge in that field. The authors relate to foreign readers by offering funny pieces of advice or insider tips, such as this extract, which is one of my favorites:
One aspect of this book that is particularly striking is that it reads like fiction… except it’s not. As you read each story, you’re instantly captivated and – somehow – you find yourself reading about certain dishes, but not quite sure how you got there because the story-telling was so seamless. And just as you start to feel a little hungry, the authors throw a few recipes your way (it would be mean not to).
Accompanying the engrossing stories are beautiful photos. Gabriella’s husband, Ryan, is the photographer behind these images, which capture candid moments and everyday market life. Together, this foodie couple founded Catavino, a hugely successful company which runs tours focusing on food and wine in Portugal and Spain (if you are a wine aficionado, check out their harvest tour for September of this year!). I have no doubt that The Undiscovered Food Stories of Northern Portugal will inspire you to explore Portugal and all the delicious food it has to offer. And when it does, be sure to contact Catavino!
The Undiscovered Food Stories of Northern Portugal is currently only available in English (Portuguese version to come very soon!) and you can purchase it on the Catavino website here. It’s a perfect (and unique) gift for anyone planning a trip to Portugal, somebody who’s been to Portugal and loved the food they ate there… or really just any foodie on the lookout for new inspiration! If you have questions or comments on the book, please use the comments section below.