Some years ago, a dear friend in Berlin once said that even if I didn’t call to announce my arrival in the city, she always knew I wasn’t too far away because the weather always took a turn for the worse. This is something I have been accused of many times, to be perfectly honest, I thinkt there is some truth to the matter. The locals tell me that the weather in Lisbon was absolutely gorgeous until about 10 days ago, and it has been cloudy and rainy ever since. My grandmother used to say that if you have a birthmark on your bum it is a sign that you will always attract bad weather. Hmmm, let’s not get into that just now. I know, I know, this is all a bunch of hogwash and old wives’ tales, but sometimes coincidences do make you stop and think twice.
However, superstitions aside, Spring is around the corner in the Iberian peninsula, and with it come the rains. I find it ironic though, that the sun has been shining brightly in Berlin ever since I left. Oh well. Let’s forget about rain for now, there is nothing I can really do about it except embrace it as a sign of the many blessings coming my way.
A line in The Lord’s Prayer says “give us this day our daily bread”… I have no bread to offer, but I do have another quaint story about my Uber driver. Today I had an elder gentleman who spoke Spanish and Portuguese. He was very indulgent about my broken Portuguese so we settled for Spanish instead, and what wonderful stories he regaled me with! It turns out he used to be a sous chef for a restaurant located along the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, where he worked for over 20 years. His Spanish was flawless, but the more excited he got the more he slipped back into Portuguese, He loved his job and I could tell by the look in his eyes that he still yearned for those times. Why did he return to Portugal? His wife couldn’t the harsh mountain weather anymore and she vehemently insisted on returning to the warmer temperatures of her beloved Lisbon. So it was that I can certainly sympathisethis lovely soul packed his bags and walked away from this favourite job for love and peacekeeping duties.
I asked whether he still cooked and he retorted “No, now I just eat and let my wife fry the fish.” From his chef days we moved on to cleanliness and hygiene standards of restaurants. “You should always check out the state of the kitchen in every restaurant, don’t just settle for whatecer the place in front of you. Find out what the cooks look like, how they are dressed, how the dishes are washed, and how the food is handled.” he said sternly. I mean, he isn’t wrong, but I can imagine myself being thrown out of any restaurant around the world if I make such a request. Anyone else have visions of Gordon Ramsey exploding?
That wasn’t the end of the story (remember I told you about the long ride to work?) Well this fellow sqeezed in as much information and stories as he could in the short span of time. The good man got distracted from his tirade on restaurant cleanliness when we passed one of Lisbon’s reknown shopping malls, which he strongly advised against shopping there. He was on a roll so he proceded to complain about high-end brands and how you can get the same quality elsewhere without the pricey name. I didn’t dare contradict him at this point. We ended the trip with his recommendation on the best place to eat bacalhau in Lisbon, after he told me where not to eat the famous egg tarts. “It’s a little pricey, but it is worth every cent” were his parting words. As soon as I find it, rest assured I will be blogging about it.