Consoada is free of meat, as required before Misa do Galo’

The Portuguese needed fish for religious reasons as meat consumption was forbidden during Lent and on the many fasting days in their Catholic calendar. These rules on fasting led to the tradition of eating bacalhau (cod) on Christmas Eve. The consoada is a humble meal. Salt-dried codfish – soaked for 2 to 3 days to remove most of the salt – is boiled with cabbage and potatoes, and sometimes eggs and chickpeas. Free of meat, as required before the Missa do Galo (Midnight Mass).

Portugal is the world champion in consuming cod, with 20 percent of all cod caught worldwide being eaten in the country. The fish isn’t native to Portuguese waters. The Vikings – who used to take air-dried cot on their sea voyages – probably introduced bacalhau in Portugal in search of salt. To preserve it longer the Basques went a step further by salting the fish before drying.

The preserved cod proved convenient for long intercontinental crossings to Asia and Brazil during the 16th and 17th centuries. Over the centuries, salt cod became one of the most affordable animal proteins and a popular staple food in a poor country, where it was known as the ‘meat of the poor’ and more recently ‘the faithful friend’ (o fiel amigo).

As cheap food for the masses, some of the best bacalhau recipes came out of recycling leftovers or the less prized parts of the fish, such as bacalhau à Brás (shredded cod with scrambled eggs and straw fries).

But also pataniscas de bacalhau (cod fritters), pastéis de bacalhau (cod cakes), bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (with potatoes and eggs), bacalhau com natas (cod baked with cream) and arroz de bacalhau (salt cod in rice stew).

While working as an academic researcher António Oliveira Salazar, an economist by training and future leader of the Portuguese dictatorial regime, learned that cod shortage could have a tremendous impact on society. He prioritized a continual and affordable salt cod supply and cod fishing in Newfoundland became a protected industry during his dictatorship.

The so-called ‘cod campaign’, which ran from 1934 until 1967, continued even during the Second World War. The fishing boats were painted white and allowed to pass over the northern Atlantic. When protective fishing laws were changed in 1968, many Portuguese ships stopped their activity in Newfoundland. In the early 1990s, the Canadian cod banks collapsed due to overfishing. Most bacalhau nowadays is imported from Norway and Iceland.

Enjoy the festive season       Boas Festas         (pic Público/CeliaPedroso)

Migration is a right, not a privilege’ – António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The socialist-led government of Antonio Costawants attracts more immigrants to compensate for a declining population due to an extremely low birth rate. It moreover stimulates highly-qualified Portuguese – who have emigrated – to return to the homeland with bonuses up to 7500 euros.

According to the latest census, Portugal had at the beginning of this year 10.3 million inhabitants. Over the last ten years, the country lost 2.1% of its population as a result of a negative balance between births and deaths.
Meanwhile the number of ex-pats –nowadays over 7% of the population – increased substantially in the last ten years. Among the foreigners residing in Portugal, 80% originate from countries outside the EU.

The INE (National Institute of Statistics) reported that a total of 27,000 Portuguese emigrants regressed to their home country last year. The highest number since 2008!
Family and climate prove to be the main reasons for emigrants in Europe to return, according to the study ‘Return expectations of Portuguese residents in the EU by the Emigration Observatory.
The most important reasons given for leaving Portugal in the past were low wages, lack of career advancement, and poor social benefits.

Portugal has the second-highest naturalization rate in the EU after Sweden.
The nationalization rate is the ratio of the number of persons who acquire citizenship of a country during a year over the number of non-national residents in that same country.
The highest rates were registered in Sweden(8.6 citizenships granted per 100 non-national residents), followed by Portugal (5.5%) and the Netherlands (4.8%).

Last year civil registry offices received almost 200,000 applications for a Portuguese passport, almost double as in previous years! According to the Immigration and Border Service (SEF), Portuguese nationality was granted in 134,000 cases, mainly to Brazilians and Sephardic Jews. The former Portuguese colonies – Cape Verde, Angola and Guinea-Bissau – completed the top 5.

The Ukrainian community is now the second largest foreign resident community in Portugal behind the Brazilian. Before the Russian invasion, official figures pointed to some 27,000 Ukrainians living in Portugal.
In the meantime, this number has doubled.

But not only has there been a substantial increase in the number of foreign residents and Portuguese returning to their patria, the number of Portuguese leaving the country also declined. 70% fewer Portuguese moved in 2020 to the UK, the country’s top spot emigration destination.
‘Never since the beginning of the century has the drop in the Portuguese emigration to the UK been that high’, says Rui Pena Pires of the Emigration Observatory. A clear effect of the Covid pandemic but also of (post)Brexit.

Enjoy the week                     Boa semana                 (pic Público/Sapo)