ME: Portuguese, mom, wife, designer, marketer, cook, chauffeur, stubborn, art lover, recipe tester, traveler…and the list keeps on growing. I was born in Tunisia, lived a little all over Europe, ended up in NYC where I met my husband in college. We moved back to Portugal as I was on a student visa. We got married there, had a BEAUTIFUL wedding at Igreja de Colares and reception at my parent’s paradise!
A few years later our first daughter was born, right in Lisbon, which means she is a true Alfacinha–little lettuce. We were sure she would become a soccer player as both inside my tummy as her first year of life, her little legs would not stop kicking. Instead, she’s our Dancer! Actually she still kicks her legs, and pretty high I must add. Something tells me she’ll end being a Tap dancer in life.
A few years later, we moved back to the States. Seems like we have been going back and forth from the South East to the Midwest. We started in Memphis, TN where I was told I cooked good soul food! Then we moved to Iowa where I must say, people are amazingly open-minded when it comes to food and different cultures. Sure I was not able to get everyone to try all of my cooking, nevertheless I was impressed with how much they actually tried. The best memory may have been a 4th of July meal, where no-one had special plans, so last minute I created a typical Portuguese Boiled Dinner. I made sure to cut all the “weird” meats as small as I could so that no-one would wonder what they were eating. And IT WORKED! They all loved it and a few days later I felt it was my duty to nervously let them know what they ate. Ohhh… did I get the look! You know that look, the one that “I was dead meat”, no pun intended!
So back to the South we went. This time to North Carolina. Loved it there. The weather, its proximity to mountains and the ocean. It was there that I fell in love with Charleston, SC. We went there to visit and since I have been longing to move there. The people, the region, the history, and…of course the food. If you have never been there, STOP reading this blog and get on the road to Charleston!
Our time in North Carolina was short and back to the Midwest we came. This time to Wisconsin. And we have been here for over 5 years! wow… already? Here was where our second daughter was born. She is our Princess. Never though I would have a little princess. She absolutely loves helping me out in the kitchen and bite on all sorts of food, such as garlic, lemons, cilantro…
It has been since we moved here that I became a recipe tester for Leite’s Culinaria and two local papers pretty much compared my cooking to Fear Factor!
But enough about me.
CHATO AMERICANO: Well that was the nickname he got back home in Portugal. It literally means “the pain-in-the-ass American”. It is seen as a joke from his co-workers and he actually likes it. Makes him unique. I must say he is a heck of a guy. First meal I ever made for him were salt-codfish cheeks, and though he tried really hard not to puke as I asked if he was enjoying the fish tongue, he still married me!
Since he has tried all sorts of foods, even went through a 3-month vegetarian phase due to our Dancer not wanting to eat poor cute little piggies and cows–until hubby grilled a nice juicy T-Bone and she succumbed to the amazing smell. He is a master in the grill–even learned the secret to grilling sardines to perfection–and the smoker! Apart from that he is not really allowed to cook.
THE DANCER: We are blessed to have such an amazing teen. The Princess on the other hand… The Dancer is a sweetheart, good kid, great student, has a passion for dance, and still listens to her parents! We are lucky indeed. She loves loves to eat and her cooking speciality are chicken curry, sweetpea’s awesome ribs and Brazilian brigadeiros! Her very first “grown-up meal” was at my parent’s house. She was 10 months old and as my Mother was trying to feed her baby food, her little hands grabbed some pigs’ feet with beans from my Mother’s plate. She is a true city girl at heart. Her latest fun project is to model for Afro Fusion Brands. She is their shortest model, but oh so cute.
THE PRINCESS: And what a Princess she is. Spunky as can be, scares her school with all the “weird” foods she brings, well that along with her clothing style. Scares me too actually. But in a good way. Not sure I know many people that could wear purple and red together and actually not looking that bad. She too, much as her sister LOVES food and is always ready to help me in the kitchen. When not in the kitchen she is dressing up in one of her zillion princess dresses or playing castle and dolls with her dad! She loves our dog Izzy and likes to dress her up. Cannot wait for the day to find the poor dog with painted nails. That day WILL come! Also she is the only Packers fan in the house, even though I was instructed by her that I too have to become one. See? It would not be fair that the Chato Americano and the Dancer are both Steeler’s fans, and the Princess is the only Packer’s fan. So I said it: I am now a Packer’s fan!
IZZY: The dog! We rescued her when we lived in North Carolina. Dancer and I went to the Animal Shelter to bring old towels and left with a dog! It was love at first sight between Izzy and the Dancer. She is a sweetheart apart from when she barks at nothing and scares the crap out of the Chato Americano! Also not quite sure why, every time he arrives home she barks at him. We all think she knows that drives him crazy. She too loves the Princess and allows her to do the craziest things, but I think because she knows she will always get the crumbs from the Princess. Dinner time she is always seating by the Princess. During the day, her hard life is to lay down on the sofa, resting quietly, while I am doing my work.