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Monday, May 16, 2016

Festa Time

Yesterday I took The Kiddies to a Festa.

My kids are 1/4 Portuguese on their dad's side. It's important to me that they know where they come from, where they get their traditions, why we celebrate certain traditions, blah blah blah ... Knowing where you came from, being proud of who you are, celebrating your heritage is important. Even though I'm no longer married to that side of the family, my views on culture and history haven't changed. It's important to know one's history. I'm going to make sure my kids know theirs.

Besides, the food is really really freaking good.

So the Festa. Right. Festival of the Holy Spirit. I've heard a few different variations on the story and celebration's origin, and all the main points in the story are the same, it's the details that get a little muddled from storyteller to storyteller. Pretty much, Queen Isabel saved her leftovers to give to the hungry. The King didn't like her to mingle with the poor and didn't want her to feed them. Once he caught her with her cloak filled with bread (or jewels to buy bread, or food of some kind depending on who is telling the story). The King asked her what she was carrying. She told him Roses. He called bullshit because it was Winter and where was she to get roses from? She threw open her cloak and roses tumbled out. I've heard other stories where the Queen is a victim of famine herself and tells God that she'll give her crown jewels to the Church if He'll feed the poor. Just then she saw some ships in the distance filled with wheat and other food staples, enough to feed her kingdom. Whatever tradition you follow, the theme is the same; benevolent queen wants to feed her subjects, mean king says no. She does it anyways and a there's a miracle and people get fed.

There are a bunch of Festas up and down California during this time of year. We usually go to the one in Santa Cruz. Yesterday we went to the Sausalito Festa. There's a parade with Queens from neighboring Portuguese halls with beautiful dresses and amazing capes with long trains. When the parade passes, we join the end of the line and process to the church in the community, then after church, walk back town to the local Portuguese hall for some super delicious food.

I'm certain if you ask 100 different Portuguese Grandmas how to make Sopas, you'll get 100 different answers, but in a nutshell, Sopas is pot roast, really amazing, delicious pot roast served with big hunks of cabbage, crusty stale bread soaked in the jus of the pot roast, served with bruised mint. Really really delicious meal.

Here are some pics from our day.
The Kiddies marching to the parade route.

My Oldest flirting with a wooden 49er
A funky little altar we found on the parade route.

Stale french bread with meat jus and mint


Cabbage, linguica, carrots, sweet potatoes with a buttery, garlic and parsley coating
Free wine. I had the white. It was delicious.

I didn't get a picture of the rice pudding. It was really yummy and lemon-y and had a cinnamon-dusted crown on the top. 

We had a really nice day. We shared a table with a man and his wife. He was from Teceira, Azores but lives now in the central valley. He thanked me for making sure my kids know their dad's side of the family even if I'm not a part of it anymore. It was nice. He also told my oldest that she needed to find herself a nice Portuguese boy to marry now that she's almost out of high school. 

Good day all around. Good food all around. 


  1. Terceira is where Tom's grandparents were from! It's a small world, isn't it? Who knows...that man might be related to the family--it is a small island. :) Hyla has plenty of time to find that "nice Portuguese boy".. :)

    1. I don't remember his name. He used to be the Manteca chapter president and told us he'd look for us in Santa Cruz in July.


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