Saturday, March 12, 2011

Portuguese Sopas

In Portugal they have a yearly feast for the poor. It would be like "dinner out". It was their way of giving back to the community and it was free to the public. Ranchers would donate a cow to butcher (which is a lot of money) or whatever they could do to help...time, money, etc. Here in the U.S. they do something similar. First there is this big parade with marching bands played by Portuguese kids, the crowning of the Queens, Princesses etc. This would be a time to dress in your Sunday best. Matching hat, purses, gloves and shoes...of course our dresses matched too. There would be a catholic church mass said in the morning, the parade to the (what I call) feeding grounds (the park). Lots of picnic tables with butcher paper across the top for quick clean up. Vendors would sell sodas. Sometimes there would be music by prominent Portuguese musicians. It was all great fun.

If you were lucky you got to be in the parade. The Central Valley, was in part, Modesto, California. Hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof out there. Thank goodness for the park shade trees. My older sister and I got to be flower girls one year. My younger sister was an Angel...I felt a contradiction here. We walked and walked and I was grateful it finally ended. I was so thirsty and tired. I think I was about 6 or so. You got in line to get the food (which fortunately our parents did for us) and we got one drink. orange soda. Grownups got soda or beer. On your plate is a bunch of meat and the sopa which is day old French Bread with a large sprig of mint on top, topped with meat juice and a dill pickle. Don't ask about the dill pickle, I have no idea what that is about.

We dove into the food that fell off the bone, the suculant juices surrounding the meat and the bread was awesome. I did not eat the pickle but my older sister ate it for me. We had to clean our plates after all. After we throw away our paper plates and put the silverware in the bucket by the "kitchen" we could go play. By then the lights went on and the dancing began by a caller and we danced the Shamarita all night long. Here is the recipe so you can try this delicious dish and dance the Shamarita or whatever dance you want, all night long.


4 pounds meat 2/fat cut off (beef soup bones are very good to add), cut into large pieces
1 whole chopped onion
4 to 5 cloves garlic
1 cup Saturn wine
3/4 can (30 oz can) tomato puree
12 cup catsup
3/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
6 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1/3 cup wine vinegar
1/1/2 teaspoons GF Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups coarse chopped cabbage
1/2 teaspoon accent (optional..I don't think this is gluten free or good for you either)
Fresh garden mint


  1. Crush whole spices before using with pestle and mortar.
  2.  Add enough water to cover the meat in a large pot. Boil 3 to 4 hours until tender.
  3.  Add cabbage and cook until done.
  4. Slice French Bread with some fresh mint over top of bread, then pour juices over meat and bread.
  5. Serve hot, 1 French bread and one good scoop of meat. Add dill pickle if desired. Don't forget the Ice Cold GF beer, or favorite beverage.
Source: Frank Espinole/Mom/Laura Paul

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