Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to roam around and learn a bit more about Portuguese History. To find your interests, please, have a look at the right side of the page, where you can find all the posts arrenged into labels, such as "Society", "Politics", etc. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


As I have said before, the Portuguese cuisine not only influenced the cuisine form countries it came in contact with since mid 15th century, but also was influenced by them. There are numerous different recipes that prove it and one of them is this one, one of the typical X-Mass sweets, said to exist since 1860, but I'm not sure.
Even so, I hope you enjoy it and have a Merry X-mas!!!

375g sweet potato
200g sugar
1dl water
50g of almond flour
50 g of grind coconut
1 tangerine peel
2 egg yoks

Boil the sweet potatoes, peel them and reduce them to puree.
Boil the water with the sugar, take it off the heat and add the almond flour, grind coconut and the peel of a tangerine. Take it up to heat again for a few minutes.
Take it off the heat again and add the egg yoks slowly so they don't curdle. Cook it until it thickens.
Spread the dhogh on a serving dish and leave it to cool down for a few hours.
Add flour to your hands and shape the “broas” and put them on baking paper.
Brush them with butter and roast them in the oven until they become golden, paying attention not letting them to dry out.
You'll be able to have between 35 to 40 “broas”.

The recipe you can find under:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Garret and the Portuguese cuisine

Dear readers. Sorry for my somewhat long absence, but I haven't got the time to even scratch myself, as we say it in Portuguese.
I have had the time to read an interesting book though about cuisine references in Portuguese literature, more so about this 18th century Portuguese writer called Almeida Garrett. The book is called “Almeida Garrett – Viagens na Cozinha Portuguesa” (Travels in the Portuguese Cuisine) by Paulo Mota Tavares.
About this man you can google yourselves, all I can say is that he was a man of his time and a critique about the state of Portugal and that he commented on it profusely in his books and writings. And I decided to tell you about this book because as it says: «because frequently the petite histoire broadens the horizons.»
As I said, Garrett criticized the national politics, society and finance, firstly because we had a long blood connection with the French nobility and a long diplomatic alliance with England, both of which, in the eye of the writer, worsened our living conditions in mid 18th century. And he is right about some of his views: We cannot forget that it were the French who invades us (even if it was the Republican France) and the British government ruled over Portugal until 1820 (even if with permission of the Portuguese Crown).
On the other side of his critiques, the author becomes a nationalist when it comes to, as the subject of the book states, Portuguese cuisine. Here are a few of Garrett's opinions:
- Portuguese wine was better then the French, which he called «the anarchic acids of the French vinaigrette». But he doesn't forget the Brits: «What is an Englishmen without our Port or Madeira, without our Carcavelos or Cartaxo?» I could go on on his view of England, but I wont...
In his memories about the Peninsular War he remembers that famous generals have had gotten drunk on our wine, saying that at least then they had drunken it and after the Invasions don't even buy it.
- He also criticizes that in a time of steam machinery and industrial revolution we still plant potatoes. In fact, in 1798 a lady called D. Theresa Luiza de Sousa Maciel got a prize from the Royal Science Academy of Lisbon for having been the person who had the biggest crop of potatos and for having found a way for storing them for a year long without them loosing their qualities and not forgetting to document the whole process. (meaning that the potato had been incorporated successfully in our diet back then)
- Several times Garrett enhances the beauty of our fields and orchards, being sad that so many have been destroyed or abandoned because of the war and easy money making in colonies such as Brazil, like in the region of his beloved Santarém.
- Last but not least, he compares the British cuisine with the Portuguese, specially in a poem he wrote in England on December 25th, 1823, during his exile, which he called “A Christmas in London”, stating that at least Portugal has several festive days to enjoy good food and wines and has a big gastronomic tradition, while in the United Kingdom they only drink ale and eat raw and insipid beef.

About the wine called “carcavelos” I will write more on in a later post, since it has an interesting story that not only involves the place where I live (Oeiras) but also the History of Portugal.
And now,I will translate a recipe of the of the time, which can give a good view of how we ate back then (and perhaps even today).

SOPA MAGRA (slim soup – slim as in simple)
Take carrots, onions and vegetables and after being conveniently cut and washed, brown them in veal fat for half an hour. Add the right amount of water, season it and leave it on the fire until it reduces into a broth. Add rice, or ragout, tapioca or bread and, before serving it, a spoon of veal fat.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The 1st Fench Invasion explained chronologically

Here's a link to a document which explains in detail de 1st French Invasion in Portugal But the best that I've found was the chronological resume at the bottom of the text, which is very helpfull and which I'll translate into Portuguese. And if you're a military geek, the detail of the regiments involved in the 1st invasion can be very interesting too.

19th of May – Decree that reorganizes the Portuguese Army. The Unites are known by numbers.
21st of November – Napoleon promulgates decrees ordering the closure of the European harbors to British navigation (Continental blockade)

19th of July – Ultimatum for Portugal to join the Continental Blockade.
12th of August – France demands form Portugal to declare war to England until September 1st.
30th of August – In Lisbon the project to remove the the Crown to Brazil is approved.
30th of September – The government representatives of Spain and France abandon Lisbon.
17th of October – Junot receives orders to initiate the invasion of Portugal.
27th of October – Spain and France sign the Fontainebleau treaty.
30th of October – In an attempt to keep the French menace at bay, D. João declares war to Great Britain.
16th of November – Royal Warning to save the silver form the churches.
17th of November – Junot in Alcântara (Spain) proclaimers to the Portuguese people promises of friendship, but hard threats if there's resistance.
19th of November – Junot's army crosses the Portuguese border at the bridge of Segura.
24th of November – French arrive Abrantes.
26th of November – Decree by the Prince Regent D. João nominating the governors of the Kingdom.
27th of November – The Portuguese Crown embarkes in the squadron that will take them to Brazil.
29th of November – The squadron finally leaves the Tagus. Junot arrives in Sacavém. Several personalities linked to the Crown, to the National Academy and the Free Masons travel to Sacavém to ask for protection.
30th of November – Junot enters Lisbon.
13th of December – Rebellion breaks out in Lisbon when the Portuguese flag is substituted by the French at S. Jorge's castle.
22nd of December – Decree by Junot reducing the number of regiments in the Portuguese Army.
23rd of December – Decree signed in Milan in which Napoleon imposes a contribution of 40
million “cruzados” to return the private property.
24th of December – Occupation of Madeira by the British.

11th of January – Decree by Junot dissolving the Militia.
21st of January – The Crown arrives at Brazil.
27th of January – Royal letter that opens the Brazilian harbors to trade with all friendly nations.
01st of February – Decree by de Junot declaring that the “kingdom of Portugal” will be ruled by him (Junot) in name of His Majesty the Emperor of the French and King of Italy.
10th of February – Decree by Junot disarming and dissolving the “Ordenanças”.
19th of February – Trade treaty allying Portugal and Great Britain.
20th of February – Decree by Junot organizing the “Legião Portuguesa” to move to France.
23rd of February – Command written by Junot choosing the people to travel to Bayonne to declare publicly fidelity to Napoleon.
16th of March – The “Legião Portuguesa” at Napoleon's service leaves for France. Convention regulating the relations between Madeira and the British authorities.
19th of March – Carlos IV of Spain abdicates.
6th of April – Napoleon gives the title of Duke of Abrantes to Junot.
2nd of May – Uprising in Madrid.
4th of June – Uprising in Chaves and Bragança.
06th of June – Uprising in Porto.
10th of June – The Prince Regent declares war on France.
16th June – Mutiny in Lisbon.
18th of June – Battle of Quelfes (Olhão).
19th June – The “Junta Provisional do Supremo Governo do Reino” is formed in Porto..
21st of June – The French are forced to move back in Mesão Frio. Looting in Régua.
22nd of June – Uprising in Coimbra.
26th of June – Beja is attacked and looted.
27th of June – The fortress of Santa Catarina (Figueira da Foz) is taken by the Portuguese forces.
30th of June – Leiria is freed.
5th of July – Margaron attacks Leiria.
13th of July – Orders, Instructions an Plans for the Organization of the Army.
15th of July – The French attack and loot Nazaré.
16th of July – The Portuuese forces siege Almeida.
21st of July – Dupont's French Army is defeated in Bailén.
23rd of July – Wellington meets with the “Junta do Porto”.
29th of July – Fighting in Évora.
01st of August – The British army lands in Lavos, near Figueira da Foz.
17th of August – Portuguese forces regain Abrantes. Battle of Roliça.
20th of August – British reinforcements land in Porto Novo.
21st of August – Battle of Vimeiro.
22nd of August – The armistice between French and Brits is signed.
30th of August – The Convention of Sintra is signed.
15th of September – The French start to evacuate Portugal.
18th of September – The crown's Regency is restored. The insurrection “Juntas” are dissolved.
21st of September – The ship “Bom Sucesso” arrives in Rio de Janeiro with the news of the uprising in Portugal. It had left Olhão on June 16th.
30th September – Orders for the reorganization of the Portuguese army.
14th of October – Decree that states the reorganization of the army by May 19th 1806. The battalions of the “Caçadores” are created.
26th of October – Neves Costa sends a letter to the Crown's Regency stating the importance of the Northern territory.
2nd of December – The last of the French troops leave Portugal.
11th of December – Decree in which the country is armed and mobilized.
20th of December – Decree that organizes the militia. 48 regiments are intended in a total of 50.000 men.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quilting and flannel


This is a link to a precious post I have found on a blog I follow. Besides showing the awsome work of the blog's owner and writing in 2 languages (!), this post refers to 2 things I find very interesting:
1 - A regency period quilted dress;
2 - Proof on the use of flannel, specially cotton one.

And with this I give you news and knowledge on both matters, more so the 2nd topic since it is something I had talked about on a previous post.
Just jump over the german bit if that is not your known language and read on.

A Regency Holiday Calendar

English Historical Fiction Authors: A Regency Holiday Calendar: by  Maria Grace Each year it seems we complain that the holiday season begins earlier and earlier with some shops bringing out holiday good...

Monday, November 11, 2013

S. MARTINHO – Saint Martin's day

Well, today is St. Martin's day (amongst other things (like the beginning of the pagan Carnival and the date we celebrate the end of 1st WW).
I think it's not necessary for me to tell you who St. Martin was, you can google it, but what I am here to tell you is the importance of this day in Portuguese Society.
If you google “S. Martinho” or St. Martin you'll find many, although there are two of them that are of notice (having one of them been a Portuguese Bishop of the city of Braga). The one attached to the day's celebration's and what I'm going to blog about is the following:


The traditions surrounding this day, St. Martin's day, are called the “magusto” is an Iberian celebration of pagan origins. And of course, the Catholic Church dedicated this day to that Saint, turning the festivities more acceptable in the eyes of religion.
Well, I don't know about other places, but in Portugal the “magusto” is celebrated with roasted chestnuts, bonfires and young wine, amongst other particular traditions around this country and it's villages.
What I can tell you about these 1st ones is that the bonfires come from a time before time and have, so therefore, been around for longer than we can imagine. The young wine is logical enough: in September you take the grape crops and make wine, so the it hasn't matures yet.
About the chestnuts, I have researched them and have found information very well explained on another person's blog (unfortunately only in Portuguese).

 But what it says, and what I have said also on my medieval food blog, is that in the past humans have found ways to get their daily amounts of carbohydrates in many of the produce given by nature, instead of only wheat or general cereal. Amongst these are acorns and chestnuts. They would keep during winter and flower could be made off them, guaranteeing daily bread. And since November is the month of chestnuts in the Iberian Peninsula, it is logic that people have used it to celebrate this day.
If the “magusto” has pagan origins and if it has been associated with St. Martin by the Catholic Church, can it also be said that in a time before the Roman Empire, this day would have been a “holy- day”? That I cannot say, but that there are similar celebrations found in the Roman calendar, for sure; and that St. Martin day has been around since the Middle Ages, absolutely; ans that the French and British armies have encountered locals roasting chestnuts on the streets (and most likely celebrated this day), just have a look at the several women who have been inspiration to so many foreign painters then and since then.

 João Palhares



Friday, November 8, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Here's a link to a page which post illustrates an author who's pictures I have used in the past.
Roque Gameiro was a teacher, lithografist and artist, born late 19th century, who had the pleasure of drawing scenes from the Portuguese History, trying to be as accurate as possible, and by this I not only mean drawing a particular moment in time, but also the clothing, weapons, buildings and other little details one might expect to see when studying or researching History. It is as going on a travel in a time machine. Of course, like everything else, knowledge evolves too, and some of the thing thought as correct in the past, have now been proven as different in the light of new Historical findings. He has a long list of published pieces, wether written and painted. But anyway, it is always a pleasure of looking at Roque Gameiro's work.
The links will show you details of Portuguese social costumes in late 18th to early 19th century, depicting some scenes of the French Invasions. You will see transportation means, poplars and their apparel, street scenes, an woman struck by disease being carried, the convent of Mafra with a farmer’s market, dancing, poplars taking justice into their own hands and farming traditions. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Palhares, a link

It seems that this month I'll be posting some links to interesting data. This time it's about an author who's drawing I have posted in the past. Although from the romantic period, I think his pictures still show some of what was in this country 50 years back. But please keep in mind, it is not early 19th century anymore!
Here's the link to the National Library and below some of the images.


Alentejano (a man from Alentejo, the region between the river Tagus and the Algarve), colecção Palhares, 1850.

Peasants from de island of S. Miguel (Azores archipelago), colecção Palhares, 1850.

Campinos (men that handles cattle, bulls and horses, from the Ribatejo area, from near Lisbon), colecção Palhares, 1850.

Woman from Murtosa, colecção Palhares, 1850.

Woman from Portalegre, colecção Palhares, 1850. I believe she's a widow.

A fisherman from Barreiro and Seixal (on the left bank of the Tagus river), colecção Palhares, 1850.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Portuguese Costume and Society in Images - from late 18th century to mid 19th century

Together with my recent discovery of those fine books about the French Invasions in our local library I also found lovely period images of portuguese women, painted by period vistors to our country and which I'll be sharing with you. Some are from late 18th century and others from mid 19th century. I will post them chronologically and according to author, so you can enjoy them better. Notice that some of them I had already posted in similar blog posts.

Felix Doumet (18th century)

Religious procession.

I have talked about these ladies in a post about peasants caps. These women would travell by donkey carrying vegetables, laundry and other heavy loads.

 A slave carrying a "blessed-child", also know as "angels". Children born dead or with physical handycaps would be considered blessed by god and would be publically displayed, while people, from rich to poor, would kiss them ask for their blessing.

A shepard, from the interior North regions of Portugal. These were some of the men that scared the French invaders, since one couldn't see them hiding in the bush.

A slave carrying a typicall nightpot, a "calhandra".

Marketplace in Lisbon.

James Murphy (Travels in Portugal,1795; A general view of the state of Portugal, 1798)

Young peasant women.
A rich merchant, his wife and her lady-in-waiting walking to church. I have talked before about how strict the male dominance was in Portuguese Society.

The interior of a Portuguese house. As said before, this is how most of Europe thought of Portugal, as a mix of Moorish and Western society, since the Iberian Peninsula wasn't well travelled and known.

William Bradford (1812)

A peasant from Guarda.

L'évéque (Portuguese Costumes, 1814)

Girl with cape and scarf.

Ladies going to church or visiting.

A melon seller from Setúbal.

A peasant from near Caldas da Rainha.

A peasant going to the market.

A woman asking for money for a mass.

William Morgan Kinsey (Portugal Illustrated, 1829)

Duck seller, fish seller, onion seller from Ovar, fisher.

Peasant from Trás-os-montes, benedictine none, chestnut seller, beggar.

Middle class from the Minho region.

Onion seller, honey cakes seller.

Auguste Whalen (Usages et Costumes de tous le Peuples du Monde, 1844)

 Fish seller.

Girl from Porto.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Recently I have visited an expo about the drawing of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Besides of being contemporary to the Napoleonic Wars, he was already a famous painter before that, much loved by the Spanish Royal Family. He is known to have been a critic to the Spanish social costumes and to have drawn what he would see on the streets during the French occupation. You can find many famous paintings by this author online portraying this Historical fact. By observing the drawing closer, I couldn't help myself in finding some similarities between the Spanish and the Portuguese society, not to forget the similarities of what happened to the both of the people. Of course, I would like to talk about these similarities, the social ones and then show you the pictures I took of the war. It made me shiver just to think that these scenes could have been on the streets of Lisbon, Porto and other towns. And if you-re interested, here's a link to the Metropolitan Museum of NY and a data base from which you can download books for free. This link will take you directly to a book about Goya.


Holy Inquisition: Although the Portuguese Holy Inquisition lasted longer then the Spanish (both of them as soon as the end of the 15th century until the French Invasion, while in Portugal officially only in 1821) both of them provoked a halt in society's development. The control of the Catholic Church over people's lives and thoughts, for centuries, caused a serious handicap in the sense of individuality and belonging of the Iberian people. One could get arrested, be tortured and set to die in a public square for something as simple as hear-say. Not bowing before the cross, not eating pork, swearing in public, etc, were other of the lowest accusations one could suffer.

Religion: Inquisition aside, the Catholic Religion was very important in both countries. I have spoken before about the Catholic Puritanism of the Portuguese Society. It must have been similar in Spain. Not only did it took part in every aspect of daily life, it also controlled science and public education. And not speaking about the cult around everything clerical, to a point of what we today would call hysteria. Of course, this goes without saying that the intellectual world sought refuge in foreign countries.

"This is not the least". Old noblemen carrying a religious icon in a procession, showing that instead of working for the end of war the higher classes are more worried about the salvation of their souls.

"Strange devotion". A religious relic being carried by a donkey. The daily evils and injustices are forgotten by the passing of a dead monk turned saint.

Education: As said above, controlled by the Church. Medicine, politics, philosophy and other scientific studies were oppressed by the thought that God was the explanation for everything. We mustn’t forget that the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was explained for haven been caused by people's sins and even some of the more “modern” explanations of shifting in the soil that appeared around this time, were not only set aside but considered heretic. Also on a private level, education given at home or in private schools was very violent. Wrong answers, slow learning, laziness were corrected with a strong hand and through physical punishment. Even servants or people from lower classes were thought to be allowed to be corrected this way.

"He broke the pitcher". According to Goya children are punished for breacking a pitcher but not for real missdemeaners.

Politics: The end of the 18th century brought new winds to the Iberian Peninsula, whether form France or the Americas. Liberal thought was setting itself in people minds. Liberalism vs. Absolutism was the struggle of the Iberian political scenario. Both countries suffered a similar destiny of the people's will after the Napoleonic Wars: Portugal got it's new Constitutional Monarchy in 1820, forcing the new Crown-Prince, D. Pedro to sign the constitution; Spain, by having practically the same, some years earlier, with the Cosntitution of 1812.

Women: In a time of men, in peacetime or in war, women were/are always considered the lowest of both genders. Back in the 19th century it wasn’t different. In Spain or in Portugal, women hadn't the right to have a mind of their own and were, therefore, tied to their families, whether in the form of their fathers, whether in the form of their future husbands. Women couldn't leave the house; even going to church was considered a privilege; rich families had private chapels in their homes. A woman’s' reputation was everything and the slightest suspicion would bring her down to a level of the most common of women. Marriages were arranged, many times to older men who had property and richness and evens so, they would be considered a way of freedom of the family's will. For a young woman who would be married to a much older rich man, even as horrible as it sounds and as her life would be, it could also interpreted by the young bride as a slack in parental control. On the other hand, we have the prostitution. Women, for some reason or other have been left to fight for themselves and resort to sell their bodies. It is curious that in societies were religious morals are the highest also have a high prostitution rate and that all that religion isn't enough to help a needing gender. This was Goya's critic.

"They say yes and give their hands to the 1st one that shows up". Marriages are celebrated in the blind (arranged marriages) and here the bride is shown as a mascared princess.

"The ridiculous nonsense". 2 groups sitting on a branch looking like 2 families arranging a marriage.

French Invasions/War of Independence: In Portugal the Napoleonic Wars are called French Invasions, In Spain War of Independence. The 1st because our Crown-Prince took refuge in Brazil leaving the country for Frances/British control; the 2nd because the Crown was substituted by Napoleon’s brother Joseph, forcing the Royal Family to abdicate. But both countries suffered the same and both societies decided it was time to take faith into their own hands. Goya painted how people took justice ito tehir own hands and painted the athrocities portraied by the invading soldiers. Altough the 1st French Invasion in Portugal was a peacfull one, most of the drawing I photographed show a similar scenario.

"They take advatage". A consequence of war. Soldiers robbing cadavers. 

"That's how it happened". A church being looted.

"Cartloads to the cemetery".

"Heal them and ready for a new one". Soldiers would get a quick fix and be sent back onto the battle field.

"What use has the bowl?". 1 bowl of soup isn't enough to help these people.

"They are from another lineage". The gap between rich and poor makes either side feel that they belong to another "lineage". 

"And they are beasts". The ferocity of the women saving themselves.

"The same". 

"Ravages of War". Bombing of a house. 

"Unlucky mother". And child.

"There is no remedy". Mass shootings taking place.

"They don't want to". Besides of the imminent assault, it shows the strenght of these women.

"One can't look". A group of Spaniards after searching refuge in a cave are facing a shooting.

"Not even like this". Elegant women being assaulted by soldiers. Notice the fallen baby on the ground.

"The worst is to begg". An elegant girl is trying to pass by beggars trying not to see them.

"Mob". Poplars hitting the body of a dead or almost soldier.

"What rampage is this?". French officials demanding taxes, leaving the population impoverished and the women crying.

"Because of a razor". A man being garroted because a razor was found on him as a measure of stoping popular retaliation.


"What esle is there to do?". Question asked after the enormous amount of atrocities commited by the invading forces.