Oh man, it’s been just over a month since I posted. I swear I haven’t been lazy. If anything, it’s been the opposite problem. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to in the last month:

  • Portuguese school started again!
  • I joined the board of the Silicon Valley Portuguese Education and Culture Foundation.
  • I traded in being a non-playing manager for the Argonauts for being a playing manager of the Skrewts.
  • I started coaching SJSU Spartan Quidditch.
  • I returned to NCQC after applying unopposed for the community commissioner position.
  • Oh, and the day after I flew home from the MLQ Championship, I started working at the Los Altos Town Crier as a reporter covering schools as well as business and real estate.

Phew, just looking at that list is exhausting. It’s mostly been the last thing on that list that’s been keeping me from blogging. I’m definitely writing, just not necessarily here.

It’s taken me about a month to (mostly) bury my impostor syndrome and get used to working at the pace of a weekly print newspaper instead of a purely digital publication, but I think I’ve got it under control. Mostly. I have moments sometimes where I feel like I’m punching above my weight class, but let’s save that for another post.

I’ve decided to update my blogging schedule (yes, again) and not let all this content I’m creating elsewhere go to waste. I still want to write two original posts a week. Those will be published on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, I’ll be linking to my stories in the Town Crier, and most likely giving a little background info on one or two of them.

Spoiler alert: I am pretty damn proud of something I wrote for this week’s paper. Come back Wednesday and check it out.

Barcelos Knows turned one sometime in the last month; I only know that because got billed for another year of owning this domain. A year ago I was struggling with unemployment and wondering if I’d ever make it professionally as a writer. I’ve gone from intern to blogger to reporter in that time, with a few relapses into funemployment sprinkled in there, but that mostly upward trajectory wasn’t all my doing. There was a lot of luck involved, but also the support of you, my readers.

Every time you tell me about something I’ve written, in person or in the comments section, helps validate me and what I’m trying to do with my life. That’s kept me going when I’ve felt like quitting, which has been more often than I care to admit. Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to figure myself out. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of your support.

Believing That We Will Win

My brother and I were waiting to catch the light rail after watching the US men’s soccer team win their sixth Gold Cup. Soccer is one of the things that brings us together as siblings—along with being lifelong Democrats. While the former made for a great day out, the latter ruined the patriotic buzz I had going on. “Time to go home, go to bed, and see what fresh hell Trump has visited upon us tomorrow morning,” he said.

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Professora Elizabeth and the Carnation Revolution

Most days, I’m happy if my Portuguese students retain enough from the one night a week I have with them to be able to speak to their grandparents. I hope that they remember how conjugation works for when they take other foreign languages. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I have a few that fall in love with the language like I did.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday, I terrified them. Then, I made them think.

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Fridays with Fernando: Mar Português

Fernando Pessoa statue in the Jardim das Poetas. Oeiras, Portugal. Fernando Pessoa stencil in the Bairro Alto. Lisbon, Portugal.

My blog’s tagline is “Things I know and love include: Portugal, quidditch, books & brews, and my life in San Jose.” But even though Portugal is first in that sentence, I write about quidditch way more.

As much as I’ve invested a lot of myself into the sport, that’s not all who I am or all I want to be known for. That’s is why I’ve been trying to diversify my writing lately. While I may not have written as much Portuguese content, my culture is a big part of who I am. If you’re reading this, I’m probably your token Portuguese friend. You know, the person who comes to mind when you come across anything Portuguese related.

If you’ve heard me talk about anything Portuguese for any length of time, I’ll eventually start gushing about my literary boyfriend: Fernando Pessoa. I’ve written about his work from time to time but I wanted to make a regular feature out of it. So, Fridays with Fernando was born.

I’ll save a tl;dr post about his life and work for another week. For today, I want to give you a taste of why this man’s words are always on my lips.

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Where To Go While You’re Waiting For a Reservation to Adega

San Jose's Little Portugal has seen better days.
San Jose's Little Portugal has seen better days.

Greetings, fellow Bay Area foodies. By now, you’ve heard that San Jose got it it’s first Michelin-starred restaurant: Little Portugal’s Adega. You’re probably dying to get a reservation, right? Yeah, you and everyone else—including yours truly, who’s been putting off going for nearly a year.

If I’m stuck waiting for my reservation with the rest of you, then let me tell you where you should be eating while you’re waiting for your reservation at Adega.

Bacalhau Grill/Trade Rite Market:

Translation: Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for codfish, the Portuguese national dish. It used to be that a woman wasn’t allowed to get married until she knew how to make bacalhau 365 ways: one for each day of the year. You can’t have Portuguese Christmas Eve dinner without bacalhau on the table. However, it’s not the fresh cod you’re used to having in your fish and chips. Instead, it’s preserved in salt and canned.

What you should order: Treat this place as your homework before you go to the Adega and you’ll see why they earned that star. Bacalhau and Bife à Portuguesa (think Portuguese style steak frites) are always on the menu, while Carne de Porco Alentejana (Pork Alentejo style) is a rotating special. These dishes are elevated into something special on Adega’s menu, but it’s important to know the classics first.

From Trade Rite Market, I can’t recommend São Jorge cheese enough. Cheese from Topo is fine, but grab the cheese from Beira if it’s there. I probably know and just might be related to the owner of the cow it came from.

Trade Rite Market dates back to 1945.

Trade Rite Market dates back to 1945.

Padaria Popular:

Translation: This bakery didn’t win a popularity contest. Or did it, because it’s the last one standing in Little Portugal?

What you should order: Queijadas, or Portuguese tarts. One of each flavor. Seriously.

If you must choose just one, definitely get the classic pastel de nata, or custard. The best ones are found in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon, but these are cheaper than a trans-Atlantic flight. But who says you have to choose? My favorite flavor of queijada is orange, but if you’re feeling adventurous, the bean flavored queijada is for you.

So many flavors, so little time.

So many flavors, so little time.

Cafe do Canto:

Translation: This cafe is on the corner of 33rd and Alum Rock, giving it its name: the Cafe on the Corner. It definitely takes me back to the neighborhood cafes you’ll find all over Portugal, whether it’s my family’s village in the Azores or tucked into a side street in Lisbon. Keep in mind that this place is as old school as it gets, so bring cash.

What you should order:  As someone who drinks more than her share of Starbucks sugar-bombs (all hail the Salted Caramel Mocha!), I surprise people when I order just a shot of espresso. That’s what you get when you order um cafezinho in Portugal, and Portuguese coffee doesn’t need fancy syrups to cover up bitter beans. If you’re hungry, grab a queijada as a snack or a linguiça sandwich.

This blog post is brought to you by the only coffee I ever drink black.

This blog is brought to you by passion fruit soda, Portuguese pastries, and the only coffee I ever drink black.

Why Little Portugal?

You might be surprised to hear that San Jose has a Little Portugal. You probably remember when Little Saigon was in the news, but Little Portugal? Whenever I mention the community to other San Jose natives, I usually get a blank stare. Maybe if I bring up Five Wounds Church, its white and red bell towers a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sight along US 101 as you approach the 280/680 interchange, I’ll get a few vague nods.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a neighborhood that feels more Little than like Portugal got lost in a city of over a million people; there aren’t even that many Portuguese there anymore. The changes have come in that slow and steady way that makes the end feel inevitable.

Growing up in the 90s, there were four Portuguese bakeries on Alum Rock Avenue: Five Star Bakery was across the street from Fast Bicycle, Faial Bakery was on Alum Rock and Jose Figueres, and Padaria Açoreana, along with all the other businesses in the building across the street from the Mexican Heritage Plaza, was kicked out for renovations. (The newly renovated and repainted building currently stands empty and covered by graffiti.) Only Padaria Popular remains, just a few doors down from Adega.

In my Portuguese classes this year, I have about a dozen 7 to 11-year olds in one class. It’s a decent uptick from last year’s seven or so kids per week. We expanded to a second class for younger children this school year; that teacher has a handful of students. It’s a far cry from when I was one of dozens of children in three or four classrooms at Five Wounds.

The purple banners that used to line the streets, covered in grapes and reading Little Portugal in gold have long since faded and been replaced with new banners in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese urging you to Shop Alum Rock. Of course, that’s only happening because VTA has torn up Alum Rock Avenue, leaving a gash running down the heart of a neighborhood that’s already dying a death of a thousand cuts.

In the face of this slow decline, seeing Adega literally become a star in a neighborhood I thought was fading fast made me more proud that I had any right to be. I’ve never been there. I probably won’t be able to go there for a while.

However, I have been in and out of Little Portugal for over thirty years. My childhood was spent in Portuguese classes on Monday and Wednesday nights, Mass every Sunday, catechism on Saturday mornings, and dance practice at Grupo de Carnaval more nights than I can count. I know what Little Portugal has been.

Adega offers a glimpse of what Little Portugal can be. I’ll end with some words Content Magazine shared from Carlos Carreira, one of Adega’s owners:

“We looked at other options, other locations,” Carlos recalls. “Ultimately this made the most sense. For years this area was known—and still is—as Little Portugal. So it made the most sense to have an authentic Portuguese restaurant in what for so many people is—and hopefully will be again—Little Portugal. I think that’s actually been one of the keys to our success. We are meeting everyone’s expectations, in part because no one is expecting such a nice place here.”

I’m one of those people hoping for what Little Portugal can be again. Don’t just come for one meal—come explore our community.