Part II, and probably the final part of the Azores random trivia posts.
. The local bullfights and bull running activities, like the traditional ‘tourada à corda‘, don’t include killing the animals. The ‘touradas à corda’ specifically, don’t allow the bulls to participate for too long – they have a minimum period of rest of 10 days between events and during the events themselves they only run for a few minutes.
. The parties and religious celebrations are mostly used for people to socialize, and to kill time. Because, according to one of our travel guides, ‘there is nothing else to do’.
. Among the many local jokes on the ‘mispronouncinations’ the emigrants that return from the the USA, are Vaca Miquelina = Vacuum Cleaner. Apparently that was hilarious there. I must have missed the complete sense of the joke.
. In one of the islands I didn’t visit, São Jorge, people have a ‘rapel’ system to send over items to people in some hard to get to areas (the ‘fajãs’). The items just speed away down the roap until they reach their destination. This makes complete sense in most cases, but one of our guides in São Miguel told us that they also do it with gas bins. When she found out (she’s not from that island), she asked the people there if it wasn’t dangerous. Their reply was something like this: ‘no, it’s not dangerous at all! we tie an empty bag to them so it does a parachute effect which slows them down, and at the end of the roap there are a bunch of tires which break the fall.’. … Alrighty then! Perfectly reasonable… right? o_o When I go back to Azores, I’ll try to get a video of this – hopefully with no explosions in the mix. That is, if the guide wasn’t pulling our leg – it didn’t seem like she was, despite the unbelievable aspect of this ‘system’.
. Fish in the Azores is (almost) always fresh, if you ask for fish species surrounding the Azores area, of course. There isn’t a huge fishing culture in the islands (weird, I know), but there’s a lot of fresh fish available in restaurants. The difference in taste versus that of fish that’s been frozen before getting to our plate is obvious, especially for people who appreciate fish a lot, like we do.
. There’s a vegetable in Azores, called ‘pimenta da terra’, that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s sort of a hybrid between cayenne pepper and red pepper. It’s used to make delicious food seasonings. I brought a few seeds back – some to plant here at home, and some for the farm. I doubt the farm ones will survive due to the very different weather conditions, but with any luck, the ones we’ll plant here at home will do okay. Fingers crossed.
. The azorean dish ‘cozido das furnas’, is a different version of the traditional portuguese stew. It’s made in the Furnas region in São Miguel, and it takes six hours to cook inside one of the natural volcanic digs that are used for this. Unlike what a lot of people think when they visit the cooking site, which smells like sulfur, the dish itself doesn’t taste like sulfur at all. The cozido das furnas includes ‘pimenta da terra’ for seasoning, which not only blends perfectly with the other ingredients, but also makes the simple boiled meats much tastier. They also use yams instead of turnip, and the local chourizo is slightly spicier than ours. The downside of this wonderful dish? No farinheira included.
. There’s a shop in downtown Lisbon fully dedicated to selling azorean products. I will need to look it up next time I’m in that area.
I’m also wondering what azorean restaurants exist here in Lisbon. My friend Amadeu told me about this one – Espaço Açores – that’s apparently quite good. Know any others? Let me know!
I’ll definitely want to return to the azorean islands. Beautiful scenery, nice people, great food, and a ton of activities involving Nature. What more could I wish for?