19 November - a very special day (story #2)

 

(Portuguese version)

 

Memórias de rituais

 

O ideal era ir logo a seguir a uma chuvinha. Campo molhado, solzinho de Primavera a repor o calorzinho e aí estavam eles de corninhos ao sol: os célebres caracóis!

 

Era assim que o Avô Mendes fazia e mais gostava… caminhava pelos campos junto ao bairro, assobiava, cantarolava e apanhava os pachorrentos bichinhos. Cá para mim, os ditos deviam “saltar” para dentro do saco, tal era a cantoria!

 

Voltava sempre com uma sacada de caracóis que eram religiosamente guardados, numa caixa ou rede, durante dias e dias, e alimentados com muito amor e carinho a cascas de batata.

 

Depois, chegado o dia, senhoras e senhores, a cozinha era do Avô! Entre bacias e mais bacias, os caracóis eram escolhidos um a um, cheirados em caso de dúvida e, após um banho de imersão, lavados com uma massagem revigorante que se ouvia por toda a casa. Ficavam a luzir!

 

O resto da família ficava bem longe da cozinha: o mestre estava em estágio para o petisco – caracóis guisados com presunto, bacon e chouriço.  Uma especialidade que ficava sempre bem e que nos fazia lamber os dedos e nos tornava numa verdadeira orquestra de barulhos ao chupar os sucos das suas conchas.

 

Memórias boas, sabores e cheiros que dão cor a uma infância e que hoje perduramos, cozinhando apenas os caracóis, mas restando as saudades dos guisados e dos rituais do Avô Mendes.

 

Cristina Mendes

 

(English version)

 

Memories of rituals

 

He would leave at the first sunshine after the rain. With the smell of the wet earth and the Spring’s sun restoring the heat, there they were, out in the sun, the famous snails!

 

That was how Grandfather Mendes liked best: there he was, walking through the fields next to our neighborhood, whistling, humming and picking up the slow-witted little animals. If you ask me, I think the poor snails jumped right into the bag just because of the singing!

 

He would always come back with a bag full of snails that were religiously guarded, in a box or bag, for a few days, fed with potato peels, with much love and affection.

 

Then, when the big day arrived, ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen was Grandfather's territory! Passing from basin to basin, the snails were chosen one by one, smelled in case of doubt, and after a soaking bath, washed with an invigorating massage that could be heard throughout the entire house.

At the end of such ritual, the poor snails were shining!

 

The rest of the family was far from the kitchen: the master was on a mission - snails stewed with ham, bacon and chorizo. A specialty that was always good. So good that would make us lick our fingers and sip the sauce from the shells, making us an orchestral ensemble.

 

Good memories, flavors and smells that give color to a childhood that today endures. Although we keep cooking snails, we really miss the stews and Grandfather Mendes’ rituals.

 

Cristina Mendes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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