It’s easy to fall in love with Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. Among the many reasons we did:
- The city enjoys a scenic location on the Douro River, offering spectacular views.
- A spate of museums, shops and other landmarked buildings display a playful mix of baroque, art nouveau and modern architecture and interior design.
- With a long tradition for producing port wine, Porto provides ample opportunities for port wine tastings at cellars and bars.
- The characteristic blue and white azulejo tiles, which cover the walls of the main Sao Bento railway station and can be found on the facades of many buildings, couple beauty with a sense of history.
So combining all of the above with the city’s safety record and affordability, it’s not at all surprising that Porto was named Best European Best Destination for 2017.
Oh, we left out the magnificent foods of Porto, from fish to pastries and more, including it’s one-of-a kind franceschina sandwich!
The Book – Porto: Stories from Portugal’s Historic Bolhão Market
Authors Gabriella Opaz and Sonia Andresson Nolasco have written a new book entitled, Porto: Stories from Portugal’s Historic Bolhão Market (Agate, August 2018). A mix of food, history and culture, the book tells the stories of the market through the voices and recipes of the vendors and food producers, now in their 70s and 80s, whose families have worked there for generations. To broaden the context, the authors also consulted widely with other regional culinary experts and chefs.
For more than a century, the open-air Bolhão Market (the primary market of the city) was one of the city’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions, too, playing a seminal role in the culture and cuisine of northern Portugal. Since opening in 1814, farmers, fishmongers and artisan producers of wine, cheese and olive oil gathered at the market to sell their wares and swap stories.
When we visited the deteriorating, neoclassical market in October 2016, it was still open but under renovation. A couple of months later, we learned the market had closed down and moved to a temporary location at a shopping center. Describing the new site, one TripAdvisor member commented, “It looked like a parking garage.”
In a preface to the book, the authors confirm that the market did, indeed, shut down at the end of 2016 and “nearly a year later, timelines and details [for its reopening] remained sparse, leaving the vendors in a state of flux. Some of the eldest began to leave after enduring some of the harshest years at Bolhão, working under the barest of conditions.” It is speculated, but uncertain, that the market will re-open in two years.
Passionate advocates for the market, its people and its cuisine, the authors have compiled and preserved a compelling oral history of the market that comes alive with evocative photos by Ryan Opaz. The book’s chapters are broken down by different types of foods.
Gabriella Opaz writes:
It took one trip through Bolhão to set our hearts on fire. The market embodied everything both of us were fighting for: connection, community, kindness, authenticity, sustainability, tradition, and of course, food. It was the perfect muse to tell our story.