Masks

With more than 3000 new Covid cases and 31 deaths registered in 24 hours – according to figures by Portugal’s DGS (Directorate General of Health) – Parliament decided last Friday that face masks are going to be mandatory in public spaces across the country.

The measure – valid for the next 70 days – obliges residents over the age of 10 to wear masks outside whenever physical distancing of 2 metres can’t be guaranteed. A face shield will not do.
Rule-breaking citizens risk a fine of between 100 and 500 euros.

The decision follows an earlier set of rules – in force since October 15 – in which the entire country returned to a State of Calamity including the prohibition of gatherings in public of more than five people, family events (weddings and baptisms) limited to a maximum of 50 people and fines up to 10,000 euros for anyone breaking rules over physical distancing or numbers of people allowed to meet.

Although with a population of 10 million people, Portugal recorded a comparatively low number of cases (116,000) and deaths (2,300) so far, it is – like most European nations – forced to increase restrictions in order to tackle the second wave of COVID-19. Out of 1455 people in hospital, 221 are currently in Intensive care.

People all over Europe are facing tougher restrictions. Big cities in Italy and France encounter curfews, Greek citizens have been told to stay off the street between 12.30 pm and 05.00 am and Spain declared the State of Emergency as from today.
The Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain are currently the worst-hit nations, according to recent figures by Johns Hopkins University.

Brussels – in need of a new approach to ‘free circulation’ of their citizens – proposed last week a ‘set of criteria’ comprising the number of new infections per 100.000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days, and the number/percentage of positive tests performed per 100.000 inhabitants in the last 7 days.

These criteria can be used to define red, yellow and green zones as well as consider restrictions on free circulation. They will also serve to determine areas where people have to stay in quarantine.

The day after Parliament decided on mandatory masks in public places, hundreds of people in Lisbon protested against the measures. They shouted ‘freedom’ and carried banners saying ‘masks create distrust’ and ‘fear is not a vaccine’.


Stay safe             Fique saudável                       (pic Público/Sapo/Observ)





Snacks

The only food the Portuguese are more crazy about than fish is soup.

Caldo verde is a thick soup made with thinly-cut strips of Galician kale and potato, and always a lump or two of chorizo floating in it. It is thought to originate from the northern Minho province in the 15th century and goes very well with Broa.

Broa de milho is cornbread consisting of plain flour, cornmeal, yeast, water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. It is often used for dipping in soups and stews. In the past, broa de milho was considered a poor man’s food but is enjoyed today by all tiers of society.

Açorda is bread soup in numerous varieties. Most have a smooth and thick consistency and contain olive oil, salt, herbs (coriander), garlic, eggs, and boiling water poured over diced bread.


Bolinhos de bacalhau or pasteis de bacalhau are little deep-fried patties of salt-dried cod and potatoes.

Bifana is a sandwich that consists of pork steaks simmered in a garlic sauce and then placed inside a bun. It is suggested to have appeared first in Vendas Novas. When beef instead of pork is used, the snack is called prego. Both are such fast-food classics that Mc Donald’s produces a McBifana and a McPrego for the  Portuguese market.

Sardinhas assadas are synonymous with Portugal. First, the sardines are coated with salt before grilled over a hot charcoal grill. You usually eat them on a simple slice of bread with soaks up the delicious juices. There is even a sardine festival in Lisbon on the 13th of June when the city is filled with smoke.

Caracóis are seasonal and available from May until September. When you see signs saying ‘Há caracóis’ at cafés and restaurants you’ll know they are around. 

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato is a simple dish named after the 19th-century poet Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato. It combines clams and a flavourful sauce based on olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, and fresh coriander.

Queijo da Serra is the country’s most famous cheese from the mountainous region of Serra da Estrella. The primary ingredient of this soft and salty cheese is unpasteurized ewes milk to which thistle is added to coagulate the milk.

Pasteis de nata is the famous egg custard tart, originally made around the 18th century by Catholic monks and nuns in Santa Maria de Bélem in Lisbon. The tart was made from leftover egg yolks, used in the starching of nuns’ habits. The owners of the shop Pasteis de Belém – a former sugar refinery next to the Jerónimus Monastery – are said to have acquired the recipe – they still use – in 1837 directly from the monks.

Stay Healthy                         Fique saudavél   (pic tasteatlas/expatica)