In the days before refrigeration, salting was commonly used to preserve fish for future consumption. Codfish has a low fat content, so it does not become rancid when salted. This trait enticed Portuguese fishermen to venture as far as Newfoundland in search of cod. Most of these adventurous fishermen came from a small town in the Aveiro region called Ilhavo.
The captains of the fishing boats moved to Lisbon, the place from where the boats departed. But they kept a vacation home on the banks of the Ria de Aveiro, the waterway where fresh and sea water mix. These homes are refurbished “palheiros,” the shacks painted with bright stripes where the fisherman used to store their equipment.
Other villages like Mira and Barra once had beautiful rows of palheiros. But these were gradually demolished to build modern homes. In Costa Nova, the traditional architecture was preserved. Large parts of the water-facing Marginal avenue have remained almost unchanged for the past 150 years. It is this postcard view of a time gone by that makes Costa Nova so enchanting.
It’s been an unusual Summer. For the wind has been fickle, sometimes blowing hard, other times refusing to show up for work. And we tried to cook with sea water because of a vague remembrance that Marcel Pagnol said that it was the right thing to do if you lived near the sea. Sardines were thin at first but then they gained weight and we could marinate them in olive oil and vinegar with sweet August onions cut in a half-moon shape. It’s been a wonderful Summer!
It is reassuring to know that even the sun is insecure. On our last day in our favorite beach in Portugal, the star staged an unforgettable sunset. It clearly wants us to return next year to worship again its glorious light. How can we say no?
We had a perfect lunch at Noah, a scenic restaurant in the Santa Cruz beach, with very dear old friends. Our table was so close to the sea that it looked like the waves were taking part in our conversation.
The food was simple, grilled sardines and peixe galo (dory) fillets with tomato and pepper rice. A rosé called Pinta Negra produced nearby by Adega Mãe paired perfectly with the fish.
Time flew while we enjoyed the delicious meal, the eternal beauty of the sea and the precious gift of friendship.
Noah Surf House is on Avenida do Atlantico, A dos Cunhados, tel 261 932 355. Click here for their web site.
Yesterday the elements were tired after so many performances. The wind stayed at home but the waves came, dressed in white linen. The sun was in an orange garb brought from the far east. Seagulls danced to the roar of the waves while the sun kneeled in reverent prayer until the blue curtains were drawn.
Today a new season begins. We wish you a blissful New Year and we hope you’ll come see the spectacle of the sun setting on the Portuguese sea.
Today the waves were sculpted in the whitest marble. And we stood in awe at these precious gifts from the Portuguese sea.
The ocean waves broke one by one
And I was alone with the sand and the foam
Of the sea that was singing just for me.
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen in Dia do Mar (1947) from Obra Poética (Assírio & Alvim, 2015)