In Portugal, the winter has been mild. Sunny afternoons with a touch of chill in the evening. It’s a food-galore period! Lunches and dinners go on for hours, and there are very short periods in-between them. Different parts of the family meet up and go about in a very organic schedule, everything flows in a chaotic order, as in the traffic of an Indian road junction.
The gastronomical selection is ample, but follows a strict years-old rehearsed order. Dinner on the 24th is boiled cod-fish (bacalhau cozido) sided with potatoes, green cabbage, eggs and chickpeas, and lots of olive oil. Lunch on the 25th is farrapo velho (old rags), a recycling of the previous night’s recipe, shredded down to a rugged-looking mixture of whites, greens and pastel yellows – add olive oil for bright colours. In the evening comes the roasted turkey with potatoes and chestnuts, swimming in – you guessed it – olive oil.
This year, we had a bonus meal on the 23rd – a delicious roasted duck with rice in a country house on a top of a hill in the great Algarvian outback (insert banjo riff).
Desserts are also a highlight of the season. Bolo-rei, fritos, aletria, mexidos, queijo da serra, the regional D. Rodrigos and doces finos algarvios. But the star product is the Rabanadas – bread slices wrapped in egg, sugar and cinnamon. I used to eat tens of these in my childhood! Nowadays I can only manage one or two, tops. Still, it’s my favourite feature of these evenings. Here’s a proper recipe from a foodie friend of mine.
The most awesome thing about christmas this year was the newest addition to the family: a one-month old dachshund, sister of the four year old one, who goes by the name of Viviane, although I was rooting for another name.
In the last two weeks, with great help from Kim Nicholas, I’ve been guiding a sketching workshop at LUCSUS – Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, exclusively for the sustainability master programme students. The idea is a simple one, and Kim loved it from the start: to show young people with no direct academic connection with arts that they can learn how to draw!
We held two workshops already and everybody seems to be responding well. The two hours spent focusing on blind drawing exercises turn out to be quite fun and relaxed. All but a couple of all the students don’t sketch regularly, so we were breaking new ground there! After a while the concentration levels go up and from then on the sketching quality improves exponentially. My hopes for these classes is that most of these guys get the notion that starting to sketch is as easy as looking at any given object, and that sketching is indeed seeing reality as it is!
In the end, we did a fun exercise which was suggested by sketcher João Catarino – a frankenstein-making marathon! We faced each other in pairs and had one minute for a blind line portrait which should remain unfinished. When the time was up, everybody would switch partners and continue the portrait with a new face. Some of the results were remarkably recognizable! Here’s my contribution. It’s a frankenstein-portrait of an actual couple that just happened to get merged in my sketchbook. Thanks Theo and Ann.
Österlen’s coastal landscape is beautiful indeed. But it looks even better after a nice dinner with friends and a good night’s sleep.
The picturesque crooked roads that lead from Lund to Kivik opened our appetites to the home-made pizza that our swedish-spanish hosts had prepared for us. Champagne and good wines flowed, mouldy cheeses and spicy olives were devoured, the drums rolled.
Board games were set, pseudo-punk spanish kids TV-show music chimed in, bringing in weird childhood memories for those who hailed from those parts. Even a sketching workshop for children was going on, until it was way past bedtime.
The morning after, all residues of the tiniest hangover vanished at the sight and smells of Skåne’s east coast. In Vitemölla Strandbackar nature reserve, just north of Kivik, the calm waters of the Baltic touch the dunes of sand, the dirt of land and the trunks of pine trees, simultaneously. Something didn’t add up, and yet, it was very pleasant to walk around, up and down from the field to the forest and back to the beach in less than a kilometre. It’s as if three different landscapes came together in the very same spot, like three different sentences that don’t belong to the same paragraph, punctuated regularly by the pre-emptive concrete bunkers of the WWII-era. Later, I learned that this type of landscape is known as sand-steppe – something very particular to this area of the Baltic sea, and that the pine forest is actually planted. Our hosts explained that this area generates some discussion because it seems that the pine forest is conflicting with the native sand-steppe landscape.
Oblivious to these reflections on the conflicting landscapes, Jesus picked mushrooms for lunch. And they were slimy-licous fried in garlic and coriander!
Lundasylt is finally ready! It was prepared by Chef Bianca, from Biancas Kök and Teresa from Fruktsam with the help of dozens of volunteers. The fruit to make this delicious jam was picked from public places in and around Lund. Then, all the ingredients were prepared by the volunteers at Mötesplats Maggan. The cooking process also took part there. The laborious final part was filling the jars and tagging them with the labels that I designed. The whole process is described here.
The jam was sold out to the public in the Harvest Festival in Lund Stadsparken. Unfortunately I couldn’t be present at the festival to sketch or to help out with the sale. Patrícia was there on my behalf and took some pictures of the stand.
Walks with friends prompt shorter and smaller sketches, like the one from Västra Hamnen in Malmö, overlooking the sun setting behind Copenhagen’s coastline.
A few days later, a portuguese dinner party in south Malmö was the setting for the next few sketches. Worthy of record were: a set of chocolate chess, which was devoured after three games; a medronho tasting session, with three different kinds of the moonshine from Algarve and a side of chocolate mousse; a few death metal band recommendations; and a recipe for punhetas de bacalhau (cod-fish jerk offs) (I’m serious!) (really!)
It’s delicious! Try it yourself:
Dip the salted cod-fish in water overnight. Dry it and shred it by hand taking away the skin and bones. Dice onion and garlic in small pieces. Mix everything together with oregano. Season with olive oil and black pepper. Serve with bread. Enjoy!