Friday 6 April 2007

Plastic Bags - Part 3

Germano's, the biggest shop in Lajes (second biggest town on Flores - although it's not really a town, just a village) have a good map on their plastic bags:-

Sorry the image is a bit fuzzy but taking a picture of a plastic bag with a flash produces disappointing results.

However, my favourite Flores plastic bag - although it doesn't bear a map - is that of our local shop here in Faja - Jose Antonio Ramos Teodosio - "Big Joe" as we call him. Please note, it's not possible to wheel a trolley round Joe's shop as the bag implies. It's too small. But it has everything you would need on a day to day basis. And the kindness of Joe and Linda is something you don't find in many places.


Anonymous said...

Love your Blog!From a couple of 3rd generation decendants residing in California.Both of our families emigrated in the late 1800's I(Bob) from Fazenda das Lajes, Lynns family from Lajes do Pico. We have been to Flores twice and plan to return again. Our great grandparents left their islands for a better life. We are considering leaving our continent for a better life! The island of Flores is on the "short list".
Looking foward to your posts.
Bob & Lynn Vierra

Neil King said...

Bob - thanks for your feedback. Next time you're on Flores, call in and say hello (I won't give directions to our house as it's easy to find "Os Escoceses" in Faja Grande!)

As a matter of interest, as 3rd generation, do you speak Portuguese?

Rgds, Neil

Epicyclic said...

Hi Neil- Unfortunately both of our grandparents were the last generation to really hear or speak Portuguese. We have numerous colleges in Sacramento which teach numerous foreign languages. Unfortunately Portuguese is not one of them!

I have tried Rosetta Stone software and found it to be an excellent product.
Sadly it is only available in Brazilian.

Finally we found a beginners class for European Portuguese. The textbook used was Bom Dia.

Lucky have an infinite supply of language practice partners. In a few years when you visit a neighboring island they will recognize your Flores "accent" with perhaps a bit of Scottish LOL!

We will certainly look you up when we visit again. Thanks for the invite,

Bob Vierra (Vieira)

Anonymous said...

Boa tarde, Bob & Lynn! Small world: my paternal grandparents emigrated as children from Flores with their respective families to Folsom and Benicia, California. Not only did I not learn any Portuguese while growing up, I didn't even KNOW I was half-Portuguese, because my relatives decided to hide this important info from me. Only found out the big family secret after my dad died, from some legal documents among his papers. Started reading up on the Azores, then began Portuguese classes, and finally made my first trip to the Azores in 2002, including four days on Flores -- have actually been to Fajã Grande and Fajãzinha! Have even begun translating some Azorean literature into English! I see you're taking Portuguese from the Sacto PCHS -- will you please say "Olá" to Marília Wiget for me, OK? You also might like to check out some photos that she and Joe Ferreira snapped last April at a reception there:

Boa tarde! Kathie.

Epicyclic said...

Kathie -Small world indeed! Lynn and I are in one the fotos for the Sacramento reception. I delivered a message to Alamo from a of my Vieira relatives we were aquainted with after our first visit to Flores.

We were able the enjoy the book thanks to your combined efforts.

I will say "ola" to Marilia for you.


Anonymous said...

Bob & Lynn, Please drop me a line to let me know which photo you're in, and where exactly in the picture! Also, I'd love to know who your and Álamo's mutual friend is. Type to me at:

BTW, I have a friend named Vieira in California who also has ancestors from Flores! I do suspect that those of us with deep roots there are all related somewhere along the line (perhaps even multiple times!).

Please give Marília abraços e beijinhos from me next time you see her.

A special "obrigada" to Carol & Neil for putting up with us crazy Azorean-Americans ;-) I don't know yet when my next trip to the Azores will be -- likely not before 2008, alas -- but it sure would be fun to meet up with you in Fajã Grande. Have you ever had watercress soup (Sopa de Agrião) using the local cress that grows wild around there (esp. near Fajãzinha, I believe)? I'd be delighted to send you my family's authentic recipe in English; it's really easy and quick, low-cal and fat-free too -- and yet yummy!

Bom fim de semana para todo mundo. Kathie.

Neil King said...


As they say here "Nada"!

No, we have not yet tried the famous watercress soup although we have heard lots about it. If truth be known, as former city-folks, we probably wouldn't recognise watercress growing if we were standing in it up to our necks! But I believe you're right - I've heard it grows around the watermill on the main road above Fajazinha.

Would love your recipe - do you also know the one for fennel soup? Fennel grows in our garden but we haven't tried to make the soup yet.

Rgds, Neil

Anonymous said...


1 bunch watercress, washed very very (!) thoroughly
4 cups water
1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
½ pound potatoes, washed and peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
Crusty Portuguese (or French) bread, torn into chunks

1. In a medium-large non-corrosive saucepan (I use a 4-quart All-Clad® pan), sauté the chopped onion and garlic in oil over low heat till translucent.

2. Add the 4 cups of water, then heat to boiling.

3. While the liquid is heating, finely chop the stems of the watercress and thin-slice the potatoes 1/8" thick, then add them to the boiling liquid and cook till done, about 15-20 minutes (test by gingerly forking a slice of potato -- when pierced, it should not fall apart). A bit of the potatoes' starchiness should slightly thicken the broth.

4. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper (warning: watercress is a slightly peppery-tasting green).

5. Serve the soup in individual bowls, poured over chunks of crusty bread.

NOTE 1: My late elderly aunt (of ¾ Florentina and ¼ Jorgense descent) blanched in horror when I inquired if it was permissible to include, say, sliced carrots or a few hydrated soup beans in the soup for additional color and nutrition; I guess it depends on how preoccupied one is with authenticity.

NOTE 2: You can also make this recipe with other greens (fresh or frozen), including Portuguese cabbage (kale) and spinach -- although you might want to add a bit more pepper since kale and spinach are blander than watercress.

Anonymous said...

My late father's sister and their nephew both recalled Watercress Soup being such a family favorite that back in the 1930s-40s -- when four generations of our family were living under the same roof in northern California (before my time, of course!) -- even my octagenarian widowed great-grandmother would pitch in to help my grandmother (her daughter) wash and chop the watercress; meanwhile, my grandfather sliced the potatoes, to help make a large batch of this soup (probably about quadruple the recipe I posted to you).

Years later, when I was a child, each spring my non-Portuguese mother would make a small batch of this soup (the size given in my recipe to you) for my father as a special treat.

Several years ago I read on the Internet that this recipe is characteristic of Flores -- from which, not-so-coincidentally, three of my father's four grandparents hailed. During my 2002 visit to Flores, while conversing with José Maria "Zé" Silva, director of the tourism post in Santa Cruz, I mentioned this family soup recipe of mine to him -- and his immediate reaction was, Why, your ancestors must have come from his native island's west coast, around the villages of Fajãzinha and Fajã Grande, because that's where the watercress grows wild, in and along the riffles of the streams that feed the coastline's tall ribbon waterfalls!

Using this clue, during my 2004 visit to the Archives in the Public Library in Horta, I was able to locate my paternal grandfather's baptismal record in the logbook for Fajãzinha! I have subsequently discovered my grandmother's roots in Fajã Grande from a small packet of old family letters my aunt left me, and look forward to using them as clues in guiding my research in the Horta Archives on my next Azores trip -- although as yet, alas, I have no idea when that will be.

Anonymous said...

I haven't tried this but it sounds good. Presumably you can substitute one of Flores' fine local cheeses for feta. If you try the recipe, please post to let us know how it turns out.
= = = = = = = = = = =

Blender Watercress Sauce
"The Washington Post," Washington DC., October 4, 2006

While your simply grilled, baked or pan-seared fish fillet or vegetables are cooking, you can create this quick sauce. It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days.

Makes 1½ to 2 cups

1 cup chopped watercress leaves (may substitute fresh spinach, stemmed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon (juice only)
1 to 2 tablespoon water (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish

Combine the watercress, olive oil, yogurt, garlic, basil, parsley and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Puree until the mixture is thick, adding water if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the feta cheese, stirring to combine. Serve on or alongside your entree of choice, sprinkling a little extra cheese on top, or cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.