Azores Trivia – Part II

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?

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5 thoughts on “Azores Trivia – Part II

  1. I really liked these posts, btw! Thanks for doing them.

    Two things: I love how carefree they are about potential explosions. They probably have “nothing else to do”. 😛 Also, why does the guy in the picture have an umbrella? Trying to shield the bull from the rain?

  2. Regarding the umbrella, he was using it to, hum, do the same thing people try to do, provoking the bull with big cloths (I don’t know the technical term, even in Portuguese 😛 ), but I guess that gave him some extra distance from the animal.
    It’s not very clear in the picture, but he had an ERA Real Estate umbrella and his t-shirt was from that company as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some sort of deal to get them publicity by jumping in front of raging bulls in front of a large crowd!

  3. There are a lot of people who emigrated from Azores to the US, hence all those different words for things. 🙂 They do poke fun at their emigrants a lot, much like some continental portuguese make fun of ours, who mostly go to France.
    We have the ‘avecs’ they had some other name for their emigrants (can’t remember what it was), who come back on vacation making weird portuguese/english hybrids like ‘parkar’ instead of ‘estacionar’, and I’m betting that ‘gama’ also originated from those mixes.

  4. Oh my… That stew looks delicious!
    It’s one of my curiosities in Azores. Must have some Cozido das Furnas. 😀
    Didn’t know about the lack of Farinheira… Sad 😦

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