quinta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2015

Small plates

Nuno Mendes, o chef português que se vai afirmando em Inglaterra e está a recuperar os sabores da sua infância na londrina Taberna do Mercado, passa a ter uma coluna mensal no The Guardian em Setembro. Já vai deixando o mundo de água na boca com o picadito algarvio e com os peixinhos da horta, faz questão de usar, por exemplo, anchovas dos Açores e nós gostamos muito disto.
“The food in Taberna do Mercado is different; it seems simple, but it’s not. It is poetic, complicated, nostalgic – he talks about creating dishes from “blurred memories”. “We, whether we like it or not, become ambassadors for our country … There are so many things being lost, little by little; there is lots of unemployment in Portugal, all these artisans losing their jobs. If you don’t act quickly on these things, it will be a sterile environment to go back to.” He pauses, looking a bit embarrassed. “I’m not even that patriotic.” (...)

Portugal is the great untold story of food, eclipsed by Spain and undervalued for its global impact (Goan food has a huge amount of common etymology). Its curiosities are relatively unknown; its custard tarts the main calling card. There are the gentler, sweeter cured hams from chestnut-reared pigs (“How can they call Iberian ham world-beating?”); croquettes of cuttlefish; alheira, king of the Portuguese sausage, made from game (“Taste that sourness; that’s fermentation, there’s no vinegar in there”); pink marlin; dried moray eel, a sea crop spreading from the Algarve to the Azores; tinned fish; langoustines; prawns; goose barnacles, crazy little creatures that you tug the skin off like a leg warmer; botollo sausage, made from the spine of a cow, which gave us the word “botulism”. At Taberna do Mercado, a lot of that is recreated, along with stews, mint hiding where you don’t expect it, cockle broth underneath runner bean fritters, “blurred memories from the way I ate in my childhood”. It is spectacular, but the emphasis is not on spectacle. “I want it to be a little portal into Portugal,” says Mendes.

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