‘They sat down, lit their cigars, were about to discuss a business deal involving cork or canned fish, we would know for certain except that Ricardo Reis is now leaving’
(José Saramago, 1992. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis)

Prepared in azeite (olive oil) or tomato sauce, canned fish – the country’s original fast food – is not only cheap but also rich in omega-3, protein and calcium. Sardines account for nearly one-third of canned fish, the remainder includes mackerel, tuna, codfish, eel, octopus and mussels.

Tinned fish has been part of Portugal’s culinary heritage since 1853 when the national canning industry was born. The traditional production process of selecting, cleaning and cooking the fish to individually canning and wrapping the tins – in 90% still done by hand – hasn’t changed much over time. Sardines are processed and canned the day they are caught and age in the can for maximum flavour.

Locals eat it with everything, from bread to salad. For many years tinned fish suffered from a bad reputation as it was considered food for the poor. That has changed. Restaurants across Lisbon now include dishes made with tinned fish on their menus. ‘It has once again become a national icon’, says Victor Vincente, partner of the Can the Can, a restaurant located in Terreiro do Paço.

What started as a method to preserve fish in the mid-1800s has turned into art. Conservas de peixe makes the perfect souvenir, not only for what’s inside but for the art of the can itself. Fish tins can be found adorned in traditional and contemporary artwork.

The Conserveira de Lisboa in downtown’s Baixa is a third-generation family-run grocery store founded in 1930. It looks like an old-fashioned apothecary but its shelves are filled with house-brand labels like Trincana, Prato do Mar and Minor.

None other than the ANICP – Portuguese National Association of Canned Fish Manufactures – is behind the Loja das Conservas, which opened in 2013. There one can find a wide array of canned fish from more than the dozen canning factories spread throughout the country.

On the advice of Europe’s scientific body ICES ( International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), the capture of sardines has been considerably decreased. ‘If we don’t limit the fishing on our Atlantic coast, we won’t have any more sardines within a couple of years’, explains Ana Paula Vitorino, the Portuguese Minister of Fisheries.

Bom fim de semana          Enjoy the weekend          (pic Potter/Eater/Público)

Contrary to what was hoped for, global CO2 emissions actually increased in 2018.

Every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. In December 2015, 195 member states of the UN agreed in the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature increase to 1.5⁰C above preindustrial levels. For several cities on the Iberian Peninsula, this 1.5⁰C threshold has already been reached.

In Lisbon – situated on the Atlantic Coast – the average temperature increased 0.5⁰C and the number of hot days (24-hour average temperature above 24⁰C) nearly doubled since 2000.

Even limited temperature increases have severe consequences. A hotter atmosphere can absorb more water leading to severe floods between longer and dryer periods. Heatwaves lead to excess mortality and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever has been creeping North with epidemics in Portugal in 2012. Recent research shows that when the daily temperature increases above 22⁰C, cognitive abilities of schoolchildren decrease.

The expectations are that the Mediterranean will heat up more than the global mean, resulting in a substantial decrease in the production of hydroelectric energy of which Portugal is more dependent than the Northern European countries.

Although Portugal had in 2018 the highest reduction in CO2 emissions of all EU member states, CO2 emissions of its national airline TAP  skyrocketed in the last 2 years. This was mainly the result of an explosive 30% increase in the number of passengers.
Booming tourism has become the main money-spinner generating annually more than € 14 billion in government revenues but the downside is pollution.

Portela airport – with more than 650 flight movements per day – knows few restrictions for night flights with planes coming in just a hundred meters above rooftops.

Ultrathin particles are 20 times higher close to the airport than elsewhere in the city. Measurements of inner-city noise levels taken by the environmental group ZERO showed noise pollution for more than 400.000 people with levels above the legal limits of more than 16 dB at night and 10 dB during daytime.

About 300 giant cruise ships – with at least 600.000 passengers to embark – are every year docking at a brand-new (€ 50 million) terminal. Even though only 2 years old there is no portside electricity for the moored vessels.

Massive amounts of particulate matter and sulphur dioxide (SO2) have made Lisbon’s port the sixth most polluting in Europe.
SO2 emissions from those ships are 85% higher than those emitted by Portugal’s entire car traffic over a year.

Climate change can only be achieved by keeping hydrocarbons in the ground and capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Neither option has produced any result so far.

In order to prevent global warming catastrophe policymakers have to get serious about a carbon tax set high enough to price oil, coal and gas out of the market says William Nordhaus, one of the winners of last year’s Nobel Prize for economics.

Bom fim de semana          Enjoy your weekend          (pic Público/Observador)