When NWBookLovers first toyed with the idea of launching a Book-Food-Music series, George Carroll, discerning in all walks, took our first genre-blending challenge. They should have, but the Portuguese travel industry did not underwrite this post.
In 2009, Philip Graham expanded a series of dispatches, originally posted on McSweeney’s, and published it through the University of Chicago Press as The Moon Come to Earth. It represents a year, more or less, of his experiences in Portugal with his wife and daughter.
It was my introduction to Portugal and I highly recommend the book. Read the Lonely Planet guide, then read Graham.
The default Portuguese author to read would be Jose Saramago, and the gateway to him would be his book Blindness, translated by Giovanni Pontiero. If you wish more Saramago recommendations, talk to Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books.
Me, I’m a fan of Goncalo Tavares, particularly his book Jerusalem.
Bacalhau (salted cod), grilled sardines and horse mackerel would be on the menu in the coastal towns of Portugal. Cozido à portuguesa, a thick meat stew, is a traditional dish. Celia Sack at San Francisco’s Omnivore Books on Food can recommend appropriate recipes for all.
It was Graham who pointed me to Madredeus & OqueStrada.
I now own all albums of Madredeus (Mother of God), a band from the working class area of Lisbon that gave them their name. Their music is the soundtrack for, and they appear in, Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story. Their vocalist Teresa Salgueiro is phenomenal. (Listen to five tracks on the band’s myspace page.) John Dally, musician and representative for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a big fan, too. I wonder how they sound on vinyl.
Here’s a fun OqueStrada video on YouTube. Promise you’ll watch until the horn comes in.
I so much want to go Lisbon.
George Carroll is an independent publishers’ representative, an audiobook narrator, soccer editor and general contributor for Shelf Awareness and he blogs at TheCroakingRaven.com. He has a “Lisbon” jar if you’d like to contribute.