Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feira do porco, não Feira de porco...

Our last two weekends have involved car trips to the countryside for traditional Portuguese food in which pork featured prominently.   So, when I saw the notice for the "Fair of the Pig" in Ponte de Lima it seemed like an obvious destination for our next weekend getaway.

The web link for the event, Fiera do Porco, has an interesting looking schedule and an intriguing YouTube video, so really, how could we not go.

We drove up to Ponte de Lima, about 45 minutes from Braga, on Saturday afternoon and had a nice time with a number of fun and/or interesting events - which might best be described in reverse chronological order.

The 'main' event was held in a very large tent - it contained tables set up by different local restaurants, a stage for the musicians, and booths selling pork products of all kinds, convent sweets, jewelry, ginjinha from Obidos.

Near the end of the evening a group of accordion players walked through, stopping to play some real toe tappers that were bouncing around in our heads for the whole ride home.

They start 'em young on the accordion.

Before this we'd wandered around the various booths and had some traditional convent sweets - these are made using old recipes created by nuns in the many convents in Portugal.  One was a fried curly pastry dough that was served by first slathering it in some thin sugary sauce and then coating it with cinnamon and sugar.  It reminded me of the leftover bits of pie crust that Mom used to dust with cinnamon and sugar and bake after the pie was done.

A local jeweler was selling traditional Coração do Minho jewelry.  These are fine silver pieces in the shape of a lop-sided heart.  Peggy may write about these at some future date - assuming that she likes her Valentines Day gift...

Before strolling though the tent we, of course, had to eat.  We found a table set up by a local restaurant that was serving small plates of all their fair specialties.   We started with one of Peggy's favorites - pig ears.   These were cooked but served at room temperature with garlic and olive oil. They are actually quite tasty, if you can get past the crunch of the cartilage.

We also had the cebola sausage which is traditional sausage with onions on the inside.  When cooked the onions get sweet and the whole thing has an almost BBQ flavor.  The boiled pork fillets with onions were very good, but I was partial to the breaded pork fillets on bread...

We also had the morcela sarrabulho.  This is a specialty of the region.  It is basically a blood sausage with rice and pork.  In this instance it was grilled and served with pineapple.  It was fantastic!

We've reached the point where our younger and more sensitive readers have hopefully gotten tired, quit reading, and perhaps gone off to bed to have pleasant dreams about the joys of living in Portugal.

For the rest of you, well, this is were it all gets a bit less pleasant but a lot more Portuguese ...

The title of this entry is "Feira do porco, não Feira de porco" - which translates to "Fair of the pig, not Fair for the pig".  Maybe "From where does that tasty sausage come?" would have been a good title.  Or maybe "Banned by PETA".  Another option for this one might be Matança do Porco, the title of one of the 4pm events on the fair schedule.  Go ahead and enter this at and pick Portuguese as the language to translate from.  No really - give it a try.

So, now you know.   The pig walked in but was carried out.  It was all handled with dignity and done as well as these things can probably be done.  A reclining pig, a small incision, a collection of blood for the sarrabulho.  If you are going to eat pork you should be aware of how this all works.

After the matança the hair and such is burned off using straw.

It was well attended, with people lining up outside the gates ahead of time before we were let in.  They were, like us, not afraid to take pictures.  Even when the next step began.

Some were quite enthralled and eager to see exactly how a pig is butchered.  Others, clung to the arm of an older brother.

I have more photos, but I'll spare you all of the details.  And actually, it was less of an ordeal than I expected.  The collection of the blood was the least pleasant (and those photos ... oh my).  But there was only one time that I was genuinely concerned about what strangeness might happen next.  This involved the two women dressed in traditional garb that helped out - you can see one of them in one of the photos above.  They had moved the collected blood back to a bench out of the way when one of them began opening a roll of paper Dixie cups.  The last words of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkenss" suddenly came to mind:  "The horror!  The horror!".  (Or was it J. Peterman...)  Luckily the Dixie cups were for the aguardente - a brandy that they poured from a pitcher into the cups for the crowd.  I was initially not sure how this related to the previous events, but then I figured after all this, maybe a belt wasn't a bad idea...

In a few days our neighbors and friends Ben and Joyell will be visiting and we will meet them in Porto to visit some port wine houses.   We are looking forward to this and also to having a port themed event.  This blog has been a bit heavy on the pork side and light on the port side and we are eager to address this imbalance...


1 comment:

  1. I LOVED my Feira do Porco and Valentine's Day gifts! It's not every day a girl gets pretty jewelry from a pig festival.