Wednesday, February 22, 2023

You Say You Like Peasant Food

You say you like peasant food. So do I, obvs!

But when you get the real real thing, you might not be up to it.

From the same totally anonymous unheated cafe that, a few weeks ago, produced this glory:

Behold the pernil (roast pork shoulder)

It's served Thursdays only, and runs out in twenty minutes. Backup is this frango de guia (a small chicken, though no one can tell me whether it's young or just a smaller variety):

This time I had the Monday special, favas com entrecosto. Fava beans with spare ribs. If you expect it to include - or sidecar - other contrasting delights, e.g. some sort of carb or vegetable or tomago or lokshen kugel, or anything, nope. Favas with spare ribs is literally all it is (plus a couple near-transparent slices of tuckered-out chourico). No counterpoints, no distractions, no mercy. Just spoon after spoon of this wet dowdy duad.

Never has higher glory fallen more precipitously into tedium. Halfway through, I was desperately eyeing the exits. Grizzled locals contentedly spooned the stuff into their blithely eager mouths, while I was utterly failing to fit in. Sigh.
The dish was, honestly, great. You'd have found your first bite a revelation. But it was brutal to get through; each bite a perfect clone of the previous: very good (though unpeeled) favas and very good rib chunks and very good (though very mild) gravy never merging into any deeper thing. Just that.

There was no problem with the dish. The fault was completely mine. I cannot hang with Fred Flintstone. I only like peasant food when it comes with, like, chili sauce and bread sticks and a nice microgreen salad and gravy seasoned by a modern, sophisticated chef who understands My Needs.

I discussed my trauma with a professional chef back in NY:

This is a completely under-radar, un-discussed, dowdy, locals-only eatery in a disrespected village known for hosting a mega mall and a national railroad station. It's actually quite a find (I still need to work through the Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday specials). And the same village also boasts the best suckling pig south of Barreiro (more on Barreiro's leitão here). Portugal is chowhound heaven, but more on that some other time.


Tom from Raleigh said...

Yes, the unpeeled favas are offputting, but, for me, the fries are a complete non-starter. I saw an ate those same bland fries across Portugal. They must be frozen or government issue.

I always thought Se de Garda in Alges, near the Mercado de Alges, looked incredible when we spent a few weeks in Alges. They posted their specials to Facebook daily. It seemed to be a great spot where workers ate.

Jim Leff said...

Nope. They're hand-cut (notice uneven-ness)! Not fried crunchy, but Portugal is not going for crunchy fries.

Your place looks good (thanks!), and I'll add it to my google map list of several hundred places, but if I venture up to Lisbon, I'm going to be looking for something more interesting than really good worker food (which is available right where I am). Like this:

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