Thursday, November 24, 2011


6. A Missed Connection

My "appointment" with Tabucchi's narrator in the Casa do Alentejo didn't come off, as some restaurants DID keep the general strike called for today. No blue neon sign, dead end. I will, like Tabucchi's narrator, have to be flexible and see what, if any, spirits are about tomorrow ev ening.

I don't know what Pessoa would say about the supposedly "very traditional" caldo verde soup I tried at a restaurant that would be called The Pearl in English, but I found it much too cornstarchy, although the chorizo slices were flavorful.

I also found it disturbing that this was the second restaurant in as many days where they were playing a lethargic version of "It's a Wonderful World", so I ask the waiter who is singing and he checks and tells me it is Stacey Kent, apparently a hit on the easy listening Portugese radio stations, despite the songs all being in English. She seems to be having a go at imitating Billie Holiday's lethargic unease, but turning it into ease.

A pork with sauteed onions dish is a considerable improvement over the soup, despite the kitchen having a heavy hand with oil. It may be a cultural fetish, as in several of Pessoa's Alvaro de Campos poems he mentions oil disparagingly, as in the phrase, "Falstaff's oily love of life".

It won't get me down. The forecast indicates sun for the next three days at least, and in the pension the signals to CNN, CNBC, TVE(spaƱa) and the two French channels are down--leaving only Portugese and German channels, all of which seem to be earnestly dedicated to soap operas. So I will b e reading an Egyptian novel, in honor of the heroics in Cairo, where the people are trying to bounce themselves loose from military tyranny.

I also don't know how Pessoa, who called himself a proponent of "mystical nationalism" would see the efforts of Arabs to turn around the train that has been barrelling down the same track for what seems like a geological era. But I suspect he might claim that it's the nature of those nations to live under tyranny, just as he claimed that due to Portugal's imperialist history, it was best suited for a monarchical government.

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