I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Portuguese Wine and Fado: Music for the Soul

MarizaEditors note: From time to time, we enjoy looking outside of the bottle to see some of the cultural elements that surround wine, such as a sumptuous Galician meal piled high with seafood with the strangely appropriate melody of bagpipes in the background. Wine is more than a rating or a tasting note, it seeps into other elements of our life that are important to share. Therefore, when we stumbled upon a Portuguese blog called, In Love with Lisbon, we immediately asked the author, Leah Whitehorse, to contribute an article to Catavino. Her site passionately describes Portuguese culture touching upon everything from food to festivals. Her true passion, however, is Portuguese music, and although there isn’t a direct tie to wine, it is a fun element to include in your wine experience. Therefore, the next time you crack open a bottle of Portuguese wine, maybe swing by the music store and see if you can’t add some ambiance to your experience.

It seems fitting that the first time I heard Portuguese Fado music was when I was working as a cook in a local quirky cafe. For cook read ‘starving musician’ begs friend for job! So there I was in the kitchen, diligently cooking chourisco when the soaring voice of Mariza wafted into the kitchen. The cafe was full that day. It was a place where the community came together. There was the old gentleman in the corner who always brought a book and nursed one cup of coffee and the family whose children regularly clamored for milkshakes. There were business meetings conducted over Eggs Florentine and hangover parties fortified by hearty breakfasts. By night we had candlelit tables and served tapas along with handpicked Portuguese wines and rare beers. Once a month we held acoustic nights that regularly became packed out events. On those nights the cook scuttled from her kitchen to take center stage, not unlike the traditional Fado bars of Lisbon Located in the heart of Manchester, our clientele came from all backgrounds and one had given us a stack of Portuguese music cd’s. Music was the binding force in the cafe. We used it to change the mood, add ambiance and give people some privacy whilst they discussed their personal lives. We often indulged ourselves in world music from klezmer to French cafe to Brazilian. I still remember that moment I heard Mariza. Her voice literally raised the hairs on the back of my neck and I experienced that strange sense of ‘homesickness’ that tugged at my heart. It was only later that I would come to know this feeling was ‘saudade’.

Portuguese wine with Fado

Mariza immediately became a stand out favourite. Whether she accompanied the lunchtime homemade soup or the evening tapas, her voice has the curious ability to compliment any flavour. Born in Mozambique but raised in Lisbon, Mariza effortlessly moved into the world of Fado and become the new queen of fadistas after the great Amália Rodrigues. I delved further in the gifted cd’s to see what other treasures I could find and Madredeus became my personal favorite. Once again hailing from Lisboa, lead singer Teresa Salgueiro sang the fado bars of Alfama until joining with fellow musicians to form the band. With their willingness to embrace both old and new, Madredeus have taken the traditional recipe of Fado and added their own spice to form something that has an echo of the past but has the promise of the future. It’s strange, even listening to Portuguese artists who have moved away from Fado such as Maria Joao and David Fonseca there remains a tenderness that is typical of the Portuguese. Like their traditional cuisine they are full flavored and hearty, soulful and passionate.

These artists may not sing Fado but Fado has become part of them. Fado is the heart of Portugal and saudade is the over-riding emotion in any Fado song. There is no single word in the English word that really captures this emotion. I can say it’s a sense of longing and missing combined with a paradoxical joy and hope for the yet distant future – but it doesn’t quite capture it. Music, like food, captures the history and feel of a place. We see evidence of changing politics and beliefs in traditional dishes and songs. People of Porto are known as triperos or tripe eaters because during the war with the Castilians, tripe was the only food they could readily access. Hot pepper sauce piri-piri is a much loved addition to many a Portuguese meal yet it was introduced because of their love exploring new lands. The love of the sea is echoed in the 365 ways to cook salt cod (bacalhau). The Pasteis of Belem are part of the tale of the 1820 revolution. Similarly, Fado contains within it Portugal’s fascinating history – the revolutions and wars, the sea-faring and homesickness, the rhythms that stemmed from African slaves, the political uprising and dictatorship rule. Fado moved from being the songs of the slaves to the songs of the Bourgeoisie. It was coveted by fascism and finally reclaimed by the people in the not so distant past. These days it is the music of a nation. Music like food is something that can truly unite people.

Fado is like the scent of vanilla that opens the doorways of our mind reminding us of bygone days. Vanilla is the sweetness of nostalgia and the comfort of home and has been scientifically proven to have a calming effect on the body. It is no surprise that the most famous food of Portugal is the Pasteis de Belem, the small, sweet, creamy custard tart sold daily in their thousands from the most famous pastry house in Portugal. Elsewhere in the country they are called Pasteis de Nata and the sweet scent of vanilla greets you practically the minute you step of the plane. They say that taste is the weakest of all the bodily senses, it is infact our sense of smell that creates the deluge of experience when we dive into our Cozido a Portuguesa or Arroz Doce. Like perfume, Fado evokes moods and emotions that may have been buried for a long time. It is comfort and excitement, tenderness and passion and the life-blood of Portugal. Try an aperitif of with Misia, hors d’uvre with Christina Branco, main course with Mariza, desert with Madreus, and finally, a glass of Moscatel from Setabul with Amelia.

Cheers,

Leah Whitehorse

  • Troy

    beautifully written…I would add Carla Pires and Aldina Duarte to the recommended fadistas.

  • Bill

    Portuguese-style Blues (or even some Country and Western). Don't forget Dulce Pontes. For a similar feel, Cesaria Evora sings fado-inspired songs of Cape Verde. I must say I experienced a physical sensation the first time I heard Dulce Pontes. I have extolled her virtues as a singer on this blog in the past.

  • Bill

    Portuguese-style Blues (or even some Country and Western).

    Don’t forget Dulce Pontes. For a similar feel, Cesaria Evora sings fado-inspired songs of Cape Verde.

    I must say I experienced a physical sensation the first time I heard Dulce Pontes. I have extolled her virtues as a singer on this blog in the past.

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  • LUIS GOUVEIA

    About Fado! The souls of Portugal it's also in Carlos do Carmo (maybe so good as Amália) and in Camané and don't not forgeting Mariza. As experienced all them Alive, and I had the opportunity to saw also Amalia's performance in the 70's and 80's. Unforgetabble a live experience. Conecting with Portuguese gastronomy Carlos do Carmo goes with a cigar and a Port Colheita fron the 50's. Camané goes well with "aperitivos" our tapas. Mariza goes also very well with one of our dessert masterpieces "Pudim do Abade de Priscos".

  • LUIS GOUVEIA

    About Fado! The souls of Portugal it’s also in Carlos do Carmo (maybe so good as Amália) and in Camané and don’t not forgeting Mariza. As experienced all them Alive, and I had the opportunity to saw also Amalia’s performance in the 70′s and 80′s. Unforgetabble a live experience.
    Conecting with Portuguese gastronomy Carlos do Carmo goes with a cigar and a Port Colheita fron the 50′s. Camané goes well with “aperitivos” our tapas. Mariza goes also very well with one of our dessert masterpieces “Pudim do Abade de Priscos”.

  • Leah Whitehorse

    Thankyou all so much for your comments. Troy – Obrigada. I have just had the pleasure of being introduced to Aldina Duarte through a free cd with Songlines magazine this month. I shall be listening to more. I haven't heard anything by Carla Pires. I shall investigate. Bill – Dulce Pontes is another favourite of mine – she slipped through the net whilst I was writing! O Primeiro Canto is my favourite so far. Luis – wonderful suggestions indeed and how amazing to have seen Amalia!

  • Leah Whitehorse

    Troy – Obrigada :-) I have just been introduced to Aldina Duarte through listening to the Portugeuse special cd in this months issue of Songlines. Wonderful stuff. I haven't heard Carla Pires but i shall investigate. Bill – Ah, how could I have forgotten Dulce Pontes! O Primeiro Canto is my favourite of hers. Luis – I love your suggestions! How wonderful to have seen Amalia live. Thankyou all for your comments x

  • http://www.inlovewithlisbon.com Leah Whitehorse

    Thankyou all so much for your comments.

    Troy – Obrigada. I have just had the pleasure of being introduced to Aldina Duarte through a free cd with Songlines magazine this month. I shall be listening to more. I haven’t heard anything by Carla Pires. I shall investigate.

    Bill – Dulce Pontes is another favourite of mine – she slipped through the net whilst I was writing! O Primeiro Canto is my favourite so far.

    Luis – wonderful suggestions indeed and how amazing to have seen Amalia!

  • http://www.inlovewithlisbon.com Leah Whitehorse

    Troy – Obrigada :-) I have just been introduced to Aldina Duarte through listening to the Portugeuse special cd in this months issue of Songlines. Wonderful stuff. I haven’t heard Carla Pires but i shall investigate.

    Bill – Ah, how could I have forgotten Dulce Pontes! O Primeiro Canto is my favourite of hers.

    Luis – I love your suggestions! How wonderful to have seen Amalia live.

    Thankyou all for your comments x

  • susana

    necesito la traduccion al castellano de dolce ponte por favor

  • susana

    es exelente la cancion de dolce ponte pero la necesito en castellano

  • http://www.inlovewithlisbon.com Lily

    Hi Susana,Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I don't speak Spanish. Perhaps someone else can help this lady to find the lyrics to Dulce Pontes in Spanish?

  • Flo

    I am looking for a portuguese band from back in the 70′s I believe they were called, Lisbon 70 .. Can nayonje help?
    Thanks