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┬áto 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