It has been a long hard road, full of ups and downs, but today we are incredibly excited to announce that Catavino’s first book, The Undiscovered Food Stories of Northern Portugal, is finished. Sonia, Ryan and I are a bit tired, but we’re extremely thrilled that we have finally reached the end of a journey that took us deep into the heart of Portuguese food.
Our muse was Bolhão Market — the heart of Porto and, until recently, the engine that powered the North of Portugal. The vendors nursed the sick, fed the forgotten and served as a lifeboat to anyone in need. Their homegrown produce became key ingredients in five-star restaurants, their meat graced the tables of royals and their bread fed hungry little bellies. They were your local therapists, healers and chefs. And if there is one sage piece of advice these people have lived by, it’s to simply care, to reach out and connect with anyone in their path.
As immigrants, an American woman living in Porto and a Portuguese woman living in the U.S.A., we felt a special kinship with the vendors, a unique understanding as to what it’s like to be sensitive about your identity and uncertain about the future. These vendors share an unbreakable bond, years of stories and struggles that are interconnected with the culinary history and heritage of Porto, but few cared to listen, and even less took the time to engage.
We chose otherwise! For three years, Sonia and I lived and breathed the market, its essence and its people. We travelled, wrote and rewrote this book to not only make it meaningful and educational for the reader, but heartfelt and respectful to the vendors. If we did our job well, you’ll not only walk away with a book that will encourage priceless values such as community, compassion and connection, but also a willingness to question how food impacts your life and the world around you. Ryan helped us by illustrating the stories with his captivating photos, which we hope you enjoy as much as we do.
Beyond highlighting the region’s gastronomy and its people’s life stories, our book is a cry for the preservation of one of the oldest open-air markets in Europe, which has been neglected for three decades. Page after page, we make an emotional and riveting case for traditional markets as the base for mindful eating, sustainable food systems and healthier and happier communities.
In our heart of hearts, we truly hope you love it!
Gabriella, Sonia and Ryan
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