After traveling through musical and visual landscapes in the north of Portugal let us now head south, to Alentejo. Get ready for a blog post jam-packed with charming sceneries and soft melodies.
Before that, however, and speaking of jam-packed, we’ll follow the crowds and run away to Costa da Caparica, crossing the bridge on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Although Caparica is not yet Alentejo, before the Vasco da Gama bridge existed, anyone coming from the north and driving towards the south of the country, passing through Lisbon, would use this bridge: the 25 de Abril.
“Sol da Caparica” by band Peste e Sida is based on the song “California Sun” by the Ramones and was recorded in the early ’90s. Virtually everyone alive at the time in Portugal still remembers it: it’s a fun song, a lot of people can identify with the lyrics and it was a huge success. Also, the video includes some scenes that would probably be very much frowned upon today and not get to be included in a music video.
Another classic, more or less from the same time and also featuring images from Costa da Caparica on its video is the song “Dunas” by Porto band GNR. The video isn’t such a big deal but the song was another huge hit at the time and one that is still alive in the collective Portuguese memory. The towers that you can see around the 0:52 mark (and later, too) are silos in Caparica – yes, silos. You can check out the video here:
Already on the other side of the river and looking at Lisbon here’s a very, very sweet traditional song from the Alentejo, “Os olhos daquela aquela” here in a version by the band Magano.
For a more conventional version of this song (accent and gorgeous traditional door included), I give you a true gem – and if you don’t get goosebumps listening to this I feel honestly sorry for you.
Next, for some typical landscapes with a singer whose name is pretty much synonymous with Alentejo itself.
The next video takes us straight to the town of Redondo and in it you get to see a few examples of Alentejo’s famous white-washed houses but also people in traditional jobs, like the shepherd, the potter, and the woodworker.
Feeling peckish? Alentejo is also famous for its food and one of the region’s most well known dishes is precisely the one that gives name to this song. Get yourself some bread, garlic, fresh coriander, boiling water, and salt for this song that is also a recipe. Oh, and don’t forget a few drops of olive oil!
Last, but certainly not least, a video with more landscapes but also a sneak peek into a typical village tavern besides a short tutorial on choosing melons and watermelons. Yes, that’s right. Around the 2:04 mark, you get to see the guy pressing a watermelon. Trivia tidbit: that’s what you’re supposed to do to see if melons and watermelons are already good to eat (neither unripe nor too ripe).
If you’re ever in Portugal and get the chance of observing people do this (perhaps at a family gathering) maybe, like me, you’ll find it very funny, especially if the person doing it is one of those stereotypical family dads aged 50+. They’ll hold the fruit with both hands, press the tops (firmly but gently), probably tap the fruit with their knuckles while rotating their head to better capture the sound and throw it in the air just an inch or so to feel its weight before declaring if it’s fit or unfit for consumption. It’s a whole ritual and if, after all this, the fruit is too ripe, there’s a good chance dad will lose some credibility points and have everyone complain “xi, grand’a pepino!” (pepino = cucumber = also used for melons that are too ripe and getting mushy).
Although the band is from the Alentejo, this song features Manuela Azevedo, from Porto band Clã and owner of one of the loveliest female voices in Portugal today.