Portuguese Festa

Uploaded by cacvoices on 13.06.2011

(Instrumental music)
My name is Ramona Anderson. I’m currently in Bloomington, Indiana. We moved here from
California, where I was born and grew up, went to school, married, had children. My
husband and I, my husband is 84; I’m 82. We have four children and they thought that
we should live near one of them. When Bloomington was suggested to me, I went Bloomington, Indiana?
You may have well said East Slabovia. But my husband said put in Bloomington and fell
in love. He loves the green here and the people are so friendly. In fact, one day I even said
in California with the hustle bustle, you know, I said, “When was the last time you
ever heard well bless your heart?” That seems to be an Indiana colloquialism. We find
college towns exciting, inspiring. We love the young people. We’ve seen all sorts of
interesting things through the University. We love music. We’ve seen everything from
opera to the Canadian Brass. We just plain like Bloomington.
My heritage is Portuguese. My father was born on one of the Azores Islands off the coast
of Portugal and came to America when he was 16 years old, couldn’t speak a word of English.
My mother’s family, coincidently, her parents were born in the same island, there are seven
islands. She was born in California but her parents were born there. In fact there’s
a delightful myth,or fable or whatever you want to call it. Apparently an angel was flying
over Europe and flew over Spain and then was over Portugal. Portugal is really quite a
beautiful country; lots and lots of flowers maybe that's where I get my love for gardening.
The angel was so taken with the flowers down below. They even use hydrangeas for fences
there instead of building fences. That she swooped down and gathered up an arm full of
flowers and as she flew out over the Atlantic, she dropped seven of them; they became the
Azores Islands. It’s just a delightful little myth about it. My father was a rancher and
so were my mother’s parents. My grandparents were completely self-sufficient.
They went, quote, into town maybe once a month to get staples and such. When you drove into
their place, it was heaven for me. You drove in the drive, the long drive, and on the right
the fence was covered with honeysuckle and on the other side of that fence was my grandmother's
flower garden. The fence on the left was covered with grape vines and on the other side of
that was a small little orchard with every fruit tree imaginable. I guess two’s and
threes of each and her vegetable garden. Portuguese are very much into pork and so they grew their
own hogs and chickens galore. I thought that the cute little bunny rabbits they had were
just pets. I didn’t realize they ate them. My grandfather made his own wine and they
had this big cellar, with the big casts of wine. I remember winemaking time and they
did not get in there with their feet incidentally. It was this huge, huge wooden vat. There was
a platform all around it. The people stood there with large mallets or whatever you call
it. They were flat wooden things in the bottom and they squashed the grapes that way. They
stood over it. To this day I can taste that wine. Europeans introduce wine to their children
at a very young age with water, tap water, whatever. There’s not an alcohol problem
at all, if introduced early. When they slaughtered the hogs, they made their own sausages. They
made about three or four, five different sausages. Linguica is probably the best known. It's
quite popular in California. Apparently when people from Portugal and the Azores came to
America, some of them went, the people from the mainland tended to go to Rhode Island
maybe and stay in the east coast. The people from the Azores migrated out west, which is
of course what my ancestors did. They went into farming or dairy. In fact, when my father
came to America, his brother had a dairy. Well, they both worked at a dairy and then
my uncle eventually had his own dairy. Then my father went into farming and ranching.
But at my grandparents’ house, that's what I remember most fondly. I can remember churning
the butter with my grandmother. It was just a delight to go there. I went to this little
country school. If my mother couldn’t pick me up right away, I would walk over to my
grandmother’s, which I just loved. So I would make butter with her. She made the greatest
whey cheese you ever wanted to taste. With the fruit trees of course, these wonderful,
wonderful pies. Of course the crusts were great but they were made with lard. But getting
back to the sausages, they slaughtered the hogs. They used absolutely everything I think
except the hooves and the teeth; pickled pigs feet which was never one of my favorites.
I remember when I first heard what went into making sausages, I thought, oh God. I remember
their washing and washing and washing and washing those intestines and making the sausage.
They had their own smokehouse; made their own wine.
In Portugal and the Azores everybody was Roman Catholic, so I grew up as a Roman Catholic. I cannot
even now remember why they had these; we would call them a fiesta. In Portuguese it’s pronounced
festa. It was like spring, early summer. It was mainly in the little farming communities
in California. Particularly in northern and central California there are a lot of little
farm communities. So they would have the picnic or the festa, as they called it, wonderful,
wonderful foodstuff all of course handmade. Then they would have music and dancing, the
folk dancing at that time. They would have a little queen and her court. They would parade,
they had a parade and they would march from the place, would be like a clubhouse or something,
to the church and then the ceremony and then back again. My grandfather had me as queen
one year. I don’t even remember which little town it was. The food was absolutely out of
this world. Then they had, as they probably did in Indiana, the men would bid on the baskets
that the women had prepared. One of the things they had, they had wonderful food. One of
the things they had, in Portuguese its pronounced sopas. Which is not really a soup but that’s
the nearest thing I can equate it to. Out of this world taste and I guess every woman
probably had her own recipe for sopas. Here I am, I don’t know how generations away,
I don’t have a recipe. I have been looking for one that is nearest to the one that is
dearest to my heart but I have yet to find it. Of course I’ve been away from that for
so long, you know, I’ll probably never find it. They would make it in huge, huge cauldrons
and then they would soak whole loaves of French bread in it and this wonderful, wonderful
broth. Ordinarily, I don’t care for and my husband doesn’t particularly care for
mint all that much but there’s just a hint of fresh mint in it, just enough to give it
a great flavor. That’s one thing I remember fondly and wish I could have a bowl of it now
It was a delightful childhood. Of course they
had their own cows and with the milk and this much cream at the top of the bottle. Uh, lambs
and geese; I didn’t care for the chickens too much. The gander didn’t care for me.
He had my number and he would see me coming and would put his head down and his wings
out and just charge me. I would go running to my grandmother or my mother. Mother taught
my sister, younger sister, to just pick up a stick and wave it at him. So he never bothered
her. I could have picked up three sticks and thrown them at him and he’d still charge
me because he had my number by then. But it was just a fun childhood.