European Chronicles-5


I am glad I didn’t pack jeans in my suitcase. As soon as I arrived in Portugal, I concluded that eight in ten wear jeans like a uniform. Kind of a modern socialist uniform. Maybe because my sister-in-law considered a serious handicap not having a proper pair of jeans, she hurried to offer me a brand new one. I tried the jeans, in a true effort of recognition for such nice gesture. When I looked at my figure, I saw a butt that didn’t belong to me.


Unfortunately, Paul was around and said that I looked very well. “I can’t wear them… They triple the size of my butt!” I protested. As my sister-in-law also insisted, I decided to accept. Anyway, I was left wondering how many disappointed guys (or girls) must exist all over Portugal (or the world)…


In general, Portuguese are greedy in terms of smiling, especially if I compare them with the spontaneous joy of the Spanish. The other day I heard on the news that the big majority of the Portuguese don’t have a cent in their pockets after paying their basic expenses. I was about to think: “No wonder they don’t smile a lot!” But then I remembered how poor and happy Mozambicans are, so I inferred that the sad faces are more temperamental than economical related.


Beware if you visit countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy! Food in these countries is a killer. I would like very much to describe what I’ve been munching, but my heavy conscience feels a lot better if I forget about it. As I am not a big meat and fish eater, the worst for me has been cheese and sugary treats. Every single night I swear to control my gourmandize… Every single day I fall for a different kind of cheese or some almond tartlet…


And what can I say about wines, except thumbs up for Portuguese, Spanish and Italian wines? Besides divine, the good ones don’t give me migraine. I don’t know if the absence of migraine is due to the quality or the cold climate. Anyway, I am very grateful to be able to taste the wonderful wines I’ve tasted, mainly thanks to my brother-in-law cellar.


If I am having problems with food, you can imagine what a gourmet like Paul is facing. He is large! He is largely happy! Well, sometimes he feels largely guilty too.


Eating healthy has been one of Paul’s favorite topics during our road trips. I decided to challenge a bit the outcome of one of such conversations by saying:


“Sometimes I’m not so sure about all those fruit and veggies talks. I was raised eating cakes and cooked bacon over toasted bread. I regarded pingo as the best treat in the world. Pingo is a home made butter from spiced pork fat…”


When I explained this I was convinced that such way of eating was my family own mania, but my brother-in-law replied:


“That’s what people eat in Spain!”


“Well, if I had doubts about my family origins they would be gone…” I concluded.


I was referring to the fact that my family left France for Spain, before coming to Portugal. I had no idea that Portuguese don’t eat cooked bacon over toasted bread or pingo. That was a discovery for me, and I like discovering new things.


What else I’ve been enjoying in Europe? The comfort of paying in euros wherever I am. Winter colors and shapes, particularly trees and old houses. The contrasting warmth of my body against the cold on my ears.


As so many other things in my life, I guess I have to learn to live always divided between Africa and Europe.