The 18th of April was the International Day for Monuments and Sites. Several groups of Urban Sketchers Portugal met that day in cities with historical interest to celebrate the date. As I was going south for work, it was a perfect opportunity to get to know Silves from a different perspective – that of a sketcher.
I got there early in the afternoon, but the sketching had been going on since the morning, mostly around the bridge over the Arade and the southern slope of the historical burg, between the river and the castle. A couple of dancers and a photographer chimed in to the town gate square for a photography session with the wall and the urban features as background.
The most visible feature of the monuments and fortifications of the town is the red sandstone of which it’s made. The stones in the ramparts cover up a core of taipa, rammed earth concrete, which makes the walls of Silves a case study in rammed earth endurance. It is left to interpretation whether the walls were historically painted or left bare, but the chromatic contrast between the red sandstone and the whitewashed houses really builds up the atmosphere of Silves.
The town has its own Archaeological Museum featuring exhibits from the paleolithic, all the way through the Roman occupation and the Islamic Iberia and up to the Christian Reconquista, culminating in a few pieces of 16th and 17th century ceramic. By then the town had lost its main role as the center of Algarve, in part due to the diminishing of the river stream and also because the Reconquista was over, so the town became less strategic over time.
No sketch meeting is complete with a joyful dinner and a couple of pleasant conversations. I was thrilled to meet so many new faces and to be reunited to a few old faces.
We spent the rest of the evening in the Archaeological Museum, watching a few presentations from experienced sketchers, their journeys and their stories.
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.
Happy holidays everyone!
On the 5th of may, the public edibles initiative Fruktsam held its first public presentation, starting off with some delicious hand-prepared jams and pestos made with hand-picked fruits in and around Lund and continuing with a presentation by one of its founders – Teresa Rauscher. She explained the fundamentals of the initiative – a project that encompasses locating, picking and preparing public edibles such as fruits, herbs and nuts. For that, they provide different tools and data, such as a harvest calender, a harvest map, a fruit-picker and many more stuff. They also hold study circles to discuss and share information about fruit and stuff.
Representing the city of Lund was Karl-Oscar Seth, who explained how the Kommun deals with public edibles nowadays and how can Fruktsam cooperate in the effective management of these precious (and widely undiscovered) resources in a win-win-win outcome (Fruktsam wins, the Kommun wins, the community wins, yay!).
Kim Nicholas finished with a scholarly look at the issue, presenting her own research on urban food forestry, and how can such initiatives as Fruktsam, help to bridge urban ecosystems and food production, taking advantage of already existing urban food-producing areas, creating tools and infrastructures to aid the planting, the mapping and the harvesting of public food.