Tell us you like Arroz de Cabideda (rice cooked in chicken’s blood), that Migas is now on the top of your favourite dishes, or that Tripas à moda do Portoor Ensopado de Enguias have forever changed your gastronomic life. Go on by saying how you never knew how tasty could cod be until you landed in a Portuguese kitchen. But make sure you mean it, otherwise you might just have it for dinner at our house that night.
Or if all the Portuguese women kick as much as ass as Daniela Ruah. We know you are joking, but really? You know some of our actors, you have watched some of our films? Have you watched “O Crime do Padre Amaro”? Have you noticed how good is Joaquim de Almeida is at being a bad in “Once upon a time in Mexico”? Watch how we try to hide that huge smile of pride as we say “Oh, he sucked.” Don’t worry, it’s only because he met Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. And don’t even get me started if you’ve actually watched the “Canção de Lisboa.”
It will have a deeper effect if we have been miles away from home for months on end. Just pick one, from Amor Electro, Luis Represasto to Boss AC or even David Carreira. A Portuguese rock classic like “A minha alegre casinha” from Xutos e Pontapés will definitely improve our day. And a smile will surely be drawn on our face if we hear “Aqui vou eu para a Costa, aqui vou eu, cheio de pinta…”
Our parents have not brought us up to be lazy and pot around all day. They love to hear their children have a reputation for being hard-working. In fact not just our parents, most people in the country love to hear our countrymen are hard-working, too, especially, when it hits the headlines of Correio da Manhã, Diário de Notícias, Público and Visão. After all, with so much bad news it’s nice to know you’ve brought up your children right on the “Quem não trabuca, não manduca” (Who does not work, does not eat!) principle.
Or our dad, or any member of our family. It will be a lot more efficient than telling us how pretty we look in that red dress or new jeans. Clothes will fade away, but our parents, our family, as their faces get wrinklier, we will just love them more than ever before. In case you are not sure, just watch the way we walk with our head high and lift our chest up to the sky after you said how you like a Portuguese mother’s cooking skills, or a Portuguese father’s jokes.
Even, or especially, if we gave you an opinion you did not want to hear. We did not do it to hurt you, even though sometimes we might be a bit rough around the edges. We are blunt because we believe someone had to tell you that. Praising our honesty is synonym of being trustworthy, and we just rather be honest than bootlickers.
Go on in fascination about how post-European-crisis-XV-century-Portugal with only 1 million people built caravels, developed sailing techniques, drew a line in a map dividing the world in two with the Spanish, and sailed around a world they initially believed was flat (a world where they thought they could just fall out of at any time as they ventured further away, while listening to tales of sea monsters and dreading the days without wind). On those days the temperature raised, the fresh water decreased, and treachery and disease took over ships. Somehow it was the beginning of a trend that changed the world for the better and for the worse.
Tell us how safe you thought it was, how you enjoyed the cliffs and the mountains, how you made friends and ate our food. The geographical plot of land where our culture and traditions have been growing over the last 800 years would not be the same without the generations of people who have been dedicating their life, time and love to that land. So telling us you like our country is saying you like us.
In a healthy way, of course. We are not just hard-working and honest, but our history is made of tales of crazy people who set themselves apart. We do not have just good chefs, great songwriters, dedicated doctors and nurses, we have the bold Portuguese like Francisco Lufinha who kite surfed 1000km non-stop from Lisbon to Madeira or João Garcia who climbed all the 14 mountains over 8,000 metres high after losing some of his fingers and toes when he climbed Everest. For some, their determination walks side-by-side with craziness, but isn’t it because we are crazy that we can be a little bit of everything? “Nunca um português foi português: foi sempre tudo.” (Never a Portuguese was Portuguese: was always everything) — Fernando Pessoa
The cry of the guitar, the strong voices pouring their soul out — it takes a good strong heart to fall in love with this mix of inspiring sadness and longing. Fado is an art which results from that old dream that has been guiding men going further for millennia. It’s a consequence of our adventurous spirit feeding on the dreams and love, and bearing the pain of missing the foundations and love of our homes. Of course, for the 20th-century Portuguese emigrante the social media has decreased it, and maybe if there was a World Wide Web wrapping the world in its long-reach arms for the last five centuries Fado would not exist. But luckily it does, from a casa de fado to youtube.
Uma Portuguesa is a Portuguese woman, aquela Portuguesa is that Portuguese woman but, A Portuguesa is our national anthem. While most of us stumble on the words if we sing past the first strophe, it still fill our lungs and raises our heart to the sky just as the military men on their Juramento de Bandeira day.
It literally means “everything is worth it as long as the soul is not small.” Particularly, when we burn the most amazing Portuguese dish and look at you in distress or when we miserably fail at translating “Ser Poeta” by Florbela Espanca and click play to let Luis Represas sing it to you instead. When we see in your faint smile you did not get any of the cultural references in the last joke. What better way of lifting our ego than reminding us, in the words of Fernando Pessoa, that all our efforts to share who we are, no matter how small, are worth it.