A few years ago an old gentlemen, born in America but raised by a Portuguese Grandfather, mentioned to my husband how much he misses his grandfather’s Portuguese Octopus Stew. When my husband said I used to cook that too, the gentlemen offered him an octopus and asked that when I cooked it to save a small plate for him. And so we did. Since then, once in a while this gentlemen will send some octopus… I cook it and send half of the meal to this gentlemen’s home. Makes his day… and mine too… …And today was one of “those” days.
This “arrangement” always reminds me of a very hard winter about 20 years ago. I was a teacher for 1 year to 3 classes of 5th graders in a remote, isolated and very small island in Azores – Flores Island. Their Winters were terrible with very bad weather conditions that would keep this island isolated from the rest of the world for weeks after weeks. Due to weather conditions, during those weeks there was no boat or plane connections causing all the local markets to become empty of some of their supplies and every gas station empty of any fuel. I endured well all of those limitations but there was one thing that really bothered me – not having milk for weeks!!!
One day, a neighbor of mine, mother of one of my students, sent the boy to my house to deliver a big bag of apples from her farm. I baked apple pies with it and gave one of the pies to that neighbor in return. The next day after school she sent again the boy to my house carrying a container of milk and a note: The note said that her family loved my pie so much that they wished to order more pies and pay me with milk from their own cows. And so on Fridays after school this boy would bring me a container of fresh milk and I would send him back to his home with one of my fresh baked apple pies.
That Winter was the worst Winter of my life… but the memory of that arrangement warms my heart… just like a fresh baked apple pie… Or a bowl of Octopus Stew.