Friday, November 29, 2013

Sem preservativos!

Now that I have your attention, Portuguese speakers... Fun with false cognates!

Actually, I wanted to mention how delightful wine is sem conservantes, without preservatives. English speakers: preservativos does not translate to preservatives, as we might guess. Rather, it means condoms. The title of this post, therefore, is "No condoms!"

I am sorry to disappoint you but that is as sexy as this post gets.

It's lovely to enjoy a nice glass of vinho tinto (or three--you know me by now) and not have any trace of the decision the following morning.

Yesterday I went to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. I expected this to be a highlight of my visit to Lisbon, both for the wealth of positive reviews and because, in my mind, I had likened it to the Instituto Ricardo Brennand in Recife. (That link really loses something without the visual aids. Arg, I'll fix those broken photo links.)

Frankly, I was disappointed. Calouste Gulbenkian's life story interested me more than his collection.  His collection is impressive and it was very generous of him to bequeath so many objets d'art to the nation of Portugal. But sheerly in terms of awe--for vastness, diversity, display--Ricardo Brennand wins, no contest.

Given that my museum visit was shorter than expected, I popped in the the 8-story El Corte Inglés nearby. I'm not one who derives pleasure from shopping. This is a bit silly, but I once went to this department chain in Spain because I desperately needed new sandals during a trip. I was looking for the cheapest tide-me-over I could find. Sure enough, on the lower level I discovered a clearance section with a cute pair of black sandals in my size. As I recall, they may have cost $10. They ended up being the best pair of shoes I ever had. I was so disappointed to retire them.

So with positive memories of a shopping experience twelve years ago, in a different country... I figured I owed a visit to this store again.

I probably won't feel that way next time. I was looking at a little bag with a sweet quote in Portuguese and a little illustration when a saleswoman pounced. Uggg. She grabbed the bag from my hands, working feverishly to explain all of its benefits: "Look! It has four edges and one of them opens! There are handles! Here is a pocket--that's nice!" She really wanted me to converse with her about the bag. I just wanted her to leave me in peace to browse the alternatives. Eventually I did say, pseudo-curtly, "can I hold it?" I fought off the urge to rip it from her hands, roll my eyes, and storm off. I did buy the bag--but my fond memory of the store has been replaced with that of a haranguing nag.

By the way, this anecdote happened on Thanksgiving.
I am a non-contributing zero.
(Seriously, if you haven't seen comedian Louis CK's bit "Everything is amazing and nobody's happy,"  please Google it at once.)

Back to reality. Meandering back to Baixa, I passed the lovely Rossio Station. Nearby, Anthony Bourdain tells me, is A Ginjinha. Obviously I had to go there. As I watch the video linked herein, I realize that 5th-generation owner, José Paiva, served me my ginjinha, with 3 cherries.

I am totally going back there tomorrow.

My wander was quickly sobering though. I read that the very square that I was merrymaking in (in front of Igreja São Domingos) was home to the Lisbon Massacre (of 1,500+ Jews) in 1506, among other tragedies during the Inquisition some thirty years later. I read, too, that you can see where the interior columns split (eerily verified)--when the heavy stone roof and tops of the walls crashed in on the full church during All Saints Day mass in 1755. It was the same scenario all over the city, and there are a lot of churches. What wasn't destroyed by the quake was likely consumed by the fires that followed. I mentioned earlier that Lisbon lost 1/3 of its population in those events. Stunning.

And that leaves me with today... which I'll get to tomorrow!

Boa noite!

[Sept 2014 Addendum: I loved ginjinha so much that I ended up making a batch at Christmas. It was delicious and made a nice gift. I fell so in love with Lisbon that I decided to adopt the pen name Jenjinha.]