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Food: Bacalhoada

My informant told me her grandparents come from the Azores a group of islands off the coast of Portugal. Ever year around Easter, on Good Friday, her grandfather cooks a dish called Bacalhoada. It is basically a dish formulated from potatoes, fish, hard-boiled eggs, olives, onions, and whatever else is available in the kitchen. This tradition comes from the Portuguese sailors. Since they sent a lot of time at sea they didn’t have access to fresh foods. They would catch a whole bunch of fish because they were never sure when get would get more food. So they dried and they would rehydrate them with milk later. For this dish they would have the fish and they would then throw-in any vegetables or food that they happened to find on the ship.  Even during war-time they would take the time to make this dish every Good Friday. According to my informant the recipe varies from year to year. Part of the concept of the dish is to put in whatever you have available. My informant says that she enjoys the tradition because she doesn’t fell she has that many. She enjoys the tradition but not always the food that goes with it.

It is interesting that the informant places more emphasis on the history of the tradition than the food itself. It was probably because she didn’t know the recipe off the top of her head but the history of this dish still seems more important. Especially since the recipe seems to change yearly because that’s how the dish was originally made. That might be why the informant follows the tradition even though she’s not all that keen on the actual food. The history behind this dish gives it importance so not practicing it might seem disingenuous.

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