I grew up in East Los Angeles, California. And although I lived in the hood, I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly slumming it. My mom and dad both had pretty decent jobs and I had many opportunities that kids around my neighborhood didn’t.
Despite what was available to me, I ate almost nothing. By nothing I mean, strictly hamburgers and chicken nuggets. I didn’t eat ketchup, mustard, lettuce, etc. Sure, lots of kids are picky eaters. Well, I didn’t eat anything red or green. The colors just scared me for some reason. This definitely had an impact on my upbringing and childhood. After a baseball game, we’d all hit up the local Shakey’s and do some damage there. But not me. I didn’t eat pizza. It was red. No pizza, no spaghetti, not lasagna, no salad…..pretty much nothing. What the hell was wrong with me?!
Now, I’ll eat just about anything. I’d take a bite out of a cow if it didn’t kick me back. But the reason for my ranting today is because I’m heating up a traditional Portuguese stew called “sopas.” It’s a delicious concoction of tough meat, slowly braised with a head of cabbage, some whole potatoes, and thick slices of soggy bread. That’s about it. And the hours and hours of stewing and slight seasoning of the meat just make it an extraordinary experience for me. The first time I had it, I knew I’d be addicted.
Portuguese cuisine in itself is rustic. It’s stews, and seafood, and whole fruits and vegetables just thrown together to let the product shine. In this case, the stew I’m about to indulge in has oxtail, some bone marrow, cabbage, a few whole potatoes, and soggy bread. Oh yeah…my mother-in-law also threw in there some chunks of slab bacon that she made in the back yard brick oven.
To be quite honest…if this is poor man’s food, I don’t want to be rich.