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Recent Blog Posts

Portugal’s public washhouses

Lavadouros have traditionally been places where ladies (it’s almost always women) come to wash clothes, chat with neighbors, and sing. These days, most modern Portuguese houses are outfitted with washing machines (if not clothes dryers). Those that don’t have a washer will pop down to the Lavandaria (laundromat). However, even if they are…

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Regatta of Bathtubs and Unusual Boats

The annual Banheiras e Insólitos Regatta of Baía do Sado is a celebration of homemade (barely) seaworthy boats in Setubal, Portugal Banheiras e Insólitos Regatta of Baía do Sado (video: Brent Petersen) It seems there’s always something fun going on in our town of Setubal, Portugal. Music festivals, great food & drink, and…

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Lángos

The fried dough dish is a classic street food in Hungary. Lángos Origin Story Homemade Lángos (photo: zserbo.com) Historically, bread was baked in huge loaves (6 pounds or more) once a week in Hungary because it cost so much to heat up the giant brick ovens. Smaller loaves, 1 pound or so, were…

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A 6 Hour Journey for a Coffee Drink

Trying to find a specific specialty coffee drink proves challenging in Lisbon. Mazagran origin story Our first Mazagran in Lisbon (photo: Brent Petersen) Mazagran is a cold coffee drink that was invented in Algeria. During the French invasion of Algeria in the first half of the 19th century, French troops stationed at Fort…

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Sintra’s Travesseiro pastry

The culinary highlight of Sintra is the Travesseiro. This light and flaky pastry is filled an egg yolk and almond cream. There’s also a hint of vanilla. Travesseiro from Casa Piriquita in Sintra, Portugal (photo: Brent Petersen) In English, Travesseiro means “pillow” or “cushion” and that is an apt translation. The dough is…

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QR Codes in restaurants are the worst

Restaurants are replacing paper menus with QR Codes and it has to stop! QR Codes Origin Story The QR (Quick Response) Code was invented in 1994 by Japanese engineer Masahiro Hara while he was employed by the automotive parts company Denso Wave. Its initial use was to track parts during the manufacturing process….

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Vegan Pastel de Nata

Lisbon’s famous egg custard tart has a vegan version. Pastel de Nata origin story Pastel de Nata is by far the most popular pastry in Portugal. Monks at Jerónimos Monastery in the Belem section of Lisbon used egg whites to starch their habits and, as a result, had lots of egg yolks left…

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Azeitão Market

The first Sunday of each month is a huge open air market in Azeitão, Portugal. Hundreds of local and regional vendors set up early and sell everything from fruit and nuts to cheese and honey to clothes and fabric to plants and trees to live animals. Veggie starts (photo: Brent Petersen)Lettuce plants (photo:…

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Popular Marches Competition

June is Festival Season in Portugal. Some of the biggest festivals celebrate the three saints: Anthony, John, and Peter. The Feast of Saint Anthony takes place in Lisbon while the Festa de São João is in Porto, and St. Peter’s biggest celebration is in Evora. Add to it Arraial Pride and Rock in…

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The Soul of Alfama

In Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, Alfama, an outdoor art exhibit celebrates local residents. Artist Camilla Watson Alfama is one of the most charming and characteristic neighborhoods in Lisbon. Here, you’ll find some of the top tourist attractions like the Sao George Castle, the Lisbon Cathedral, and the National Pantheon. One of my favorite restaurants,…

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Santa Margarida cave

A cave in Setubal, Portugal has amazing views and an unlikely chapel. Santa Margarida cave (photo: Brent Petersen) Santa Margarida Cave Setubal, Portugal is situated on the south end of a large peninsula about 45 minutes from Lisbon. The working class town is adjacent to one of the magnificent natural wonders of Portugal,…

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Best Bars in Cork, Ireland

Cork is a great city to enjoy a pint or two. When in Cork, you’re best advised to not to order a Guinness. Corkonians are an independent bunch (thus the nickname “Rebel City”) and tend to reject anything from Dublin, including their famous stout. Instead, enjoy a pint of Beamish or Murphy’s. Both…

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Easy Pickle Recipe

Super easy and delicious to make! Photo: Brent Petersen Back in the day when I had my hobby farm in Rhode Island I would spend days and days making pickles as the harvest came in. Sterilizing and processing jars in boiling water baths during the blazing hot weeks of summer was a sweaty…

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Reverse Culture Shock

You’ve heard of culture shock, the feeling of being upended and out of touch by the customs and traditions of an unfamiliar culture. Recently, I returned to the United States and felt major culture shock in reverse. We have made our new home in Portugal, but have only lived here a few months….

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Amazing African food in Lisbon

Some of the best food in Lisbon has its origin in former Portuguese colonies. Cuisine of Mozambique, Roda Viva, Lisbon (photo: Brent Petersen) Mozambique Mozambique is a country in southeast Africa with a population of mostly Bantu-speaking people who have lived there for centuries. In 1498, explorer Vasco de Gama arrived in Mozambique….

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Portugal’s Nêspera fruit

The slightly sweet, slightly acidic fruit has been cultivated in China for 1,000 years. But, it’s also widely grown in Portugal. We were walking with my friend Lucia in Lisbon when I excitedly pointed out a Nêspera tree full of ripe fruit. “Do you like Nêspera?” she asked. “I do!” “You and my…

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Coffee isn’t just coffee in Portugal

There’s a great scene from “Seinfeld” in which George beats himself up because he doesn’t realize that when his date asks him up to his apartment for “coffee” she’s really asking for something else. “Coffee isn’t coffee!” he screams. My girlfriend and I often parrot the phrase “Coffee isn’t coffee” in Portugal for…

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Ape, the three-wheeled trucks from Italy

The modest Italian lightweight trucks are popular all over Europe. Ape Origin Story After WWII, Italy was in ruins and Italian consumers couldn’t afford fancy personal automobiles. Instead, many bought the much less expensive Vespa scooters. But, a larger commercial vehicle was needed to transport goods. The Italian company Piaggio adapted their Vespa,…

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Praca de Bocage

Lined by cafes and shops (and the City Hall), Praca de Bocage is the most beautiful square in Setubal. Praca de Bocage origin story There’s been a Praca (public square) on this location in Setubal since at least the 15th century when it was known as Praça do Sapal. The nearby 13th century…

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Anti-Fascist monument in Setubal, Portugal

The statue stands in a prominent spot in the city, but it wasn’t immediately met with acclaim. Monument origin story In 1974, The Carnation Revolution toppled the fascist Estado Novo regime in Portugal. Even though the revolution was spearheaded by the Portuguese military, a transition to democracy soon followed. This also marked the…

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Vegan Cheese in Austin

Plant based cheese has been elevated to a new level in Austin Rebel Cheese In Austin’s Mueller neighborhood sits a unique cheese shop and restaurant called Rebel Cheese. Rebel Cheese only opened in 2019, but they’ve made a big impact on the Austin vegan community with their 100% plant-based cheeses and meat-substitutes. Now,…

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Our best meal in Portugal, so far

An amazing experience of cooking, feasting, & laughing wasn’t in a restaurant or cafe. Not only a delicious meal, but a beautiful table (photo: Brent Petersen) Our friend in Setubal, Helenice, wanted to have us over for dinner. We’d been to her place once before, just for a glass of wine. This turned…

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Why you shouldn’t book the cheapest ticket

The cheapest ticket isn’t always the best choice. In fact, sometimes it will make your trip miserable. Remote Airports Maybe that ultra cheap fare is such a bargain because the airport you’re flying into is ultra inconvenient. Many cities have multiple airports to choose from. Paris, for example, has Charles de Gaulle, Orly,…

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Watts Towers

In the middle of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts is a stunning D.I.Y. structure with a connection to the Beatles most famous album. Watts Towers origin story Simon Rodia was an artist born in Serino, Italy. He emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Watts in 1920. The next year, Simon…

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Lisbon’s hippest vegan restaurant

Hidden in Lisbon’s up and coming Mouraria neighborhood is a plant based restaurant with incredible food and a great vibe. Veg. Food in Lisbon Back in the early 2010’s vegetarian and vegan food weren’t much of thing in Lisbon. Fish and pork, pork and fish, with a side of fried chicken and a…

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Why We Eat Zeppole on Saint Joseph’s Day

Italian bakeries crank out millions of zeppole every Saint Joseph’s Day. Enjoying this delicious pastry is a tradition not only in Italy, but all over the world. Saint Joseph’s Day March 19th is Saint Joseph’s Day, aka the Feast of Saint Joseph. It’s also recognized as Father’s Day in many countries, including Italy….

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Salsa party in Portugal

A quiet evening turns into a raucous party. We had only moved to Portugal a couple days earlier and were anxious to make friends. A Facebook group of expats in our new town of Setubal, Portugal were scheduled to meet at a cafe/wine bar on Praca Bocage (the main square in town), so…

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Traboules of Lyon

These secret passageways have helped merchants move their goods and hide the resistance fighters who took on the Nazis in WWII. Traboules origin story Traboule housing a spiral staircase (photo: Brent Petersen) Lyon was originally settled in the first century BCE as a Roman town. By the 4th century CE, Lyon had been…

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Selling Citrus on the Street

When citrus is in season, you see vendors selling the bounty of their fruit trees. A lady and her son set up their citrus stand in Setubal (photo: Brent Petersen) Winter is citrus season in Portugal. And, the sweet fruit isn’t just grown on farms. It seems just about every house has a…

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