Raul Freitas

No Stereotypes, Please



I was very fortunate, even though my parents made a modest living, my mother, (the family CFO), always managed to squirrel enough money away to take us on a summer vacation. Being immigrants, the destination of choice was usually Portugal. I loved going back. The sights, the smells, the people…the food! Don’t get me wrong my mom was a ninja in the kitchen, but in Portugal everything tasted better. As a lad, I recall that the milk, the cheese, the ham, the bread, those kid basics of the time, had flavours our Canadian substitutes couldn’t hold a candle to. I’m not dissing what I had at home, but in my mind, there was no comparison. I still remember vividly enjoying the difference. But it wasn’t just those basics, everything tasted better, even the fruit.

I moved back long ago, and still feel the same way, but now I have the pleasure of entertaining visiting friends and family from Canada, and I get the same reaction from them, whether they’re Portuguese or not. “At home I never eat bread, but here, I can’t stop!”, is a common one, “I’ve never had potatoes like these!”, “Man, this BBQ is phenomenal, the meat here is delicious!”, and the list goes on. I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy the most incredible seafood of my life in the village where my mother-in-law lives, and my favourite place to enjoy a meat dish is off the main road in a restaurant in the centre of the country, situated in a gas station. The flavours! I’m rambling.

My point is that even though a certain country might remind you of a certain food, there is usually much more to it than that. Yes, we have the pasteis de nata, the Italians have pasta, the French have their pastries, but if you visit, you’ll discover a lot more to that county’s cuisine than what comes to mind at a distance.
In Portugal, one can spend many a vacation just enjoying different dishes, or even enjoying the same dish but in different regions.

Food is the spice of life, and in Europe we love to eat good food and we love to talk at length about good food, and good wine. It’s all about the ingredients and the flavours, you might even find a pizza here that will rank at the top!

There is one important aspect that contributes to the ultra-enjoyment of good cuisine, and that’s the importance placed on a meal. Outsiders, especially North Americans, love to good-heartedly joke about how they find themselves “eating all the time”, because we give the impression that we do that constantly, but it’s just an impression. Like I said, we look forward to meals, even if it’s our lunch-hour.

We like to gather, comment, converse, enjoy. For our culture, a meal is all of that, something you look forward to, beyond being hungry. Back in Toronto, I learned to eat quick, get back to whatever I was doing. Lunch was more of a work break than an experience. I ate in my car, I ate at my desk, it was normal. You can’t really enjoy food that way, and you certainly can’t enjoy good food that way.

Eating on the run doesn’t carry any positive vibes. I’ll end this with a true experience that we had a few years ago when a long-time friend of mine came to visit us a few years ago from California. They spent a few days in our town, and we had lunch together at our house a few times. To us, eating at the dining room table together as a family is the norm, but for them, it was a totally new experience that they thoroughly enjoyed. They enjoyed it so much that a few months after their return to the US, my buddy sent me a message saying that due to the good times we had at our table together while they were here, they decided, as a family, to do the same at home at least once a week. We were flattered and proud to have, without any intent, influenced them in such a positive way. Also, they found a Portuguese mini market close to their home so they could stock up on Portuguese butter, coffee and pastries!

Food is key, folks, so when you think of Italy, France, Japan, or wherever, think of the potential eats, the unexpected pleasures. They’re much more than pizza, croissants and sushi.
Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

Redes Sociais - Comentários

Artigos relacionados

Back to top button


O Facebook/Instagram bloqueou os orgão de comunicação social no Canadá.

Quer receber a edição semanal e as newsletters editoriais no seu e-mail?


Mais próximo. Mais dinâmico. Mais atual.
O mesmo de sempre, mas melhor!