Now that the days are shorter and there is cold outside is good to be inside house.
One of my favourites thing's to do in winter is cooking. This could be a very creative activity that is also connected with your memory and homeland.
Cooking is a very special way to discover the polish culture but also can be a wonderful way to enter in your own memory, into the flavours that we experienced since childhood. We could say that there is a very strong connexion between taste and memory and the idea of this connexion not came only from my intuition- scientists suspect that taste and memory are inextricably bound. This happens because taste, like smell, bypasses the part of the mind that is logical and educable and travels directly to the primitive brain, seat of instinct and memory. But, which came first -- taste or memory, the scientists don't know yet. If you ask me, I could say that probably is the taste that came first. And for me, what came first it was the flavours of the Portuguese cuisine.
Portuguese cuisine makes part of the “Mediterranean diet” and have rich, filling and full-flavored dishes. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic is widely used, and we also use a lot of different herbs. At the same time we also have a wide variety of spices that came from the Portugal's former colonial possessions. One of our most famous spices is the cinnamon and we use this spice for one of our typical desserts, like the rice pudding (arroz doce) or in a very popular pastry called pastel de nata, a small custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon. Our Lunch, often lasting over an hour is served between noon and 2 o'clock or between 1 and 3 o’clock and sometimes during the weekend if you have family or friends at your table it could last three or four hours! The dinner is generally served late, around or after 8 or 9 o'clock and usually include soup.
Do you have food memories from childhood? I do. I think I have really strong food memories that sometimes could make me stop in my tracks. And this memories could be tightly intertwined with smell as well. Off course, now I’m in Poland and this occasions aren’t very often but already happened. Even in Poland, there have been moments when I’ve stopped, snapped my head up and looked around a little startled because the memory was so strong. One day I was just walking around in Gdynia and I felt a very good smell. This smell was amazing, it’s was wonderful because my memories was so vivid and full of movement and images. It was near a cukiernia, and they were bringing cakes inside. This smell was exactly the same of the cakes that we ate on the beach in Portugal when I was a child (it was very typical in some beaches to have people selling this cakes). They are very similar to the polish ponczek. But our have eggs cream and we call it Bola de Berlin (Berlin Balls).
At this point we could make one question: what is food? This is not a stupid question, because food—like the family, gender, or religion—must be understood as a cultural construct. And if we approach food in one anthropological way we understand that the issue of food could be very deep and interesting. So, there is nothing trivial about food: the study of culinary culture and its history provides a deeper understanding about social, political and economic culture characteristics.
The Portuguese cuisine is a dialogue of cultures because we have really different menus in each regions of our country. We also have one historically dialog with Africa, Brazil and Asia, with mutual influences. When you are far away from your country, cooking could be sometimes, a dialogue between time and space. Could be related with remembering some tastes of your own home-land, of your family and this is strictly connect with nostalgia, but when you invite your friends to taste some traditional food of your country we also could speak about identity. In the same way, cooking could also be a dialogue between two cultures. What they can teach each other? What we could learn understanding their differences?
I like the possibility of dialogue between Polish and Portuguese cuisine. I listen to them with my eyes and my mouth.