Portuguese Queen of Kensington

Portuguese Queen of Kensington:

I remember growing up near Kensington market in downtown Toronto. When I was about 4 years old, every Saturday morning my mother, with her 1960’s hairdo and thick black retro glasses, would take me to the market. I am reminded of the hustle and bustle of aggressive shop keepers, nostalgic smells, cars honking, a busy hum through the streets, people were alive, really alive. The typical Portuguese fish store with the owner raising his voice to alert customers their orders were ready, NEXT…. Stores packed with hungry patient customers, waiting in line for their orders. The floors were always messy, filthy, with saw dust everywhere. Then there were the chicken and pork butchers. They had real live chickens running through the streets, and I would crack up watching the frustrated store keepers gasping after their chickens. It was a spontaneous circus worth more than the price of admission.

But the best part of the whole excursion, was the Portuguese bakery. The aroma of Portuguese custard tarts and “massa sovada” and the famous chocolate umbrellas with their colorful wrappers… a treat my mother promised me every time. And the almond covered candies that you get at weddings, I would never have the patience to dissolve them slowly, I would always crunch within thirty seconds. That wonderful smell of Portuguese almond candies reminded me of an innocent time within the city. Where it felt like a real community, like a small town. Everyone knew each other, there were no strangers. Why is it that when Portuguese people get together, there’s a lot of loudness, arms waving, excitement, passion? We are just very energetic passionate people wanting to be heard, wanting to connect, we live life like the kings and queens of Kensington.

M. Dasilva

November 23, 2009


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Randy
    Nov 25, 2009 @ 14:43:49

    Hello Mannie, I really enjoyed reading your blog…the Queen of Kensington. I married into a Portuguese family from St. Miguel 25 tears ago and got to enjoy the experience of fathers famous Octipus stew to die for, or Crab salad. His recipes, I’m sure originated from generations back home. My mother in law was great cook too but could not duplicate the tastes of Mr. Costa. I come from third generation German decent, so Canadaian food was the norm…boring stuff, no Snitzels for me…. I truly miss the Portuguese food expereince.


    • portuguesecook
      Nov 25, 2009 @ 15:02:28

      Hi Randy,
      Your comments are so thoughtful. Portuguese food has a great deal of soul, character and a burst of comforting flavours.
      It’s a lot like it’s people.
      Thanks you for sharing your Portuguese food experience here, it is so appreciated and valued.

      Mannie Dasilva
      Creator of Portuguese Cook


  2. Dalton
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:48:58

    I like it. Your food pics need a lot of work though. They look like they were taken in 1972. The rice pudding is blurry and poorly lit. The soup looks much better. Food photography is a an entire art form in and of itself. Food stylists make a lot of money. Maybe you can find some free tips online?
    Anyways your energy is inspiring me! It’s your personality and energy that is your best asset, so keep finding ways to put that out front.. Keep on digging!

    D. Sharp.


    • portuguesecook
      Dec 02, 2009 @ 17:16:31

      I love your straight forward ways….that’s how imrovements can be made, also I appreciate your compliment on my personality, I am flattered !

      Mannie Dasilva
      Creator of “Portuguese Cook”


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