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!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Woodsrunner's Diary: More On Oilcloth and Canvas.

A Woodsrunner's Diary: More On Oilcloth and Canvas.: A Detail Taken From David MoMorier’s  Showing A Tent Possibly Made of Brown, Unbleached, Linen, c. 1751-1760 (The Royal Collection) ...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

QUICK RESEARCH VI - Rua do Salitre

Street sign of the Rua do Salitre, photo taken by me.

Rua do Salitre is the name of a street in the heart of Lisbon and which had always caught my attention because of it's name (being Salitre saltpeter). And having always wanted to visit that street and having had many opportunities to do so, I finally took my camera and did it.
Besides knowing a bit of the history of the street's name, I also found out that a very famous person linked to Portuguese History of the French Invasions lived there.
So, here's a quick info on it and the relation to where I live – Oeiras.

The name:
Rua do Salitre, was initially named Rua da Plameira or Rua dos Cartuxos, because of the kitchen garden (Horta da Plameira) or Carthusian Order, also called the Order of Saint Bruno.
This order had established there at the beginning of the 17th century, after the death of the Earl of Castanheira (the 2nd?), D. Jorge de Ataíde. He had left part of his estate (Horta da Palmeira) to this religious order, so they could established a hospice there, the Hospice of Monte Olivete.
From 1665 on, the name of the street changes to what it is today because of the existing nitre (saltpeter) pits in the surrounding areas of the Hospice.

The famous dweller:
Gomes Freire de Andrade was a Portuguese General who always has risen controversy.
He was one of many that incorporated the Loyal Portuguese Legion, created in 1808 by Junot, under the command of the Marquis of Alorna and fought in the Russian campaign.
The Portuguese Legion was, like in so many other occupied countries in that time-period, a way to control the loosing side and forming new military ranks. Although there were many Portuguese who favored the Republican way and joined Napoleon's armies willfully, there were also those who were forced to join, rather then facing immediate death. The story of this “Loyal” Legion is also wrapped in controversy, as you can see.
After Napoleon’s defeat, Freire de Andrade returns to Portugal and is accused, in 1817, of treason against the Portuguese Crown and the provisional government of Beresford, then took from his home (see photo below) and brought to the Fort of São Julião da Barra (Oeiras) to be hanged.
His death, like his life, was filled with mystery, since it is followed by many tales of legend. It is said that he didn't died the 1st time around and that his body was then washed up on the beach and then it to be burned. By then, the very religious people of this country started to treat him like a martyr and when rumors started that he was innocent of the accusations he was considered a hero.
Still today, his figure is one that divides the national opinion and most of the information one can find is always written in a very diplomatically and politically correct fashion and I am sure that my brief word will make people turn their brows.

I hope to be able to extend this subjects in future posts, but for now it will remain a quick research.

The house of Gomes Freire de Andrade, photo taken by me.

Commemorative plaque set of the house which says: «House of Gomes Freire de Andrade from where his inprisonment took place in the early hours of May 26th of 1817, having been sent to the Tower of São Julião da Barra where he suffered degrading torture in October 18th for having loved liberty and his homeland.
This headstone was set to be placed by the town hall of Lisbon to commemorate the centenary of the death of the hero on October 18th of 1917.»

Friday, April 18, 2014

PÃO-DE-LÓ - The Portuguese sponge cake

It is Easter time again and this year I want to present to you a staple Portuguese cake recipe. It is what we call pão-de-ló (bread of Ló) and it is our way to make sponge cake. Why it is called “Ló”, I cannot say with certainty, but is is said because the recipe was invented by a German cook called Lot. In which century I don't know. It's origins though, may be before the 16th century, since it was during this time that the 1st Europeans to visit Japan (Portuguese!) had brought a recipe of this cake with them, called Castile Bread.
In Portugal there are innumerate ways of doing the “pão-de-ló”, all of them in relation to the region they are made and t is very traditional to have it for Passover. The most famous ones are the Pão-de-ló de:
Beira Alta, and so many more.

Please, google the images; you will drool.

I will give you a very simple form of one, one that you can make at home and please, please, please, follow the recipe attentively or else it will come out as hard as stone, like the one I did last year (I've learned that I'm not smarter then centuries of wisdom!):

4 eggs,
200g of sugar,
100g of flour,
Baking parchment,
Cake pan with a “chimney” in the center.

Beat the eggs with the sugar until you get a foamy and white dough. Rule-of-thumb n.1: the whiter and foamier, the better.
Add the flour through a sieve, slowly and beat it or by hand or with the lowest speed of the whisking machine. Rule-of-thumb n.2: You really want to spend some time doing this. And yes that is the amount of flour.
At this stage you can add some lemon or orange zest, but it isn't necessary.
You will get a somewhat runny consistency of a dough and that you want to add to a cake pan as seen below on the image. You need to add a higher “wall” with baking parchment/paper because the dough will grow in the oven. And this was rule-of-thumb n.3. Don't forget to fatten and flour the trey!
It should come out very airy and light. It may look like the cake is dry, but once you eat it it won't be.

 Cake pan typicall for making Pão-de-ló, with baking paper. Picture taken by me.

 This years pão-de-ló. Didn't came out pretty, but it is soft and moist. Picture taken by me.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

English Historical Fiction Authors: Come play with me-Part 2

English Historical Fiction Authors: Come play with me-Part 2: by Maria Grace Games are a universal to the human experience. Many have a very long life span. Many of the pass times our 18th century an...