The arrangement of cans on the cutting board felt extravagant. And I staggered inwardly at the expense of bringing two of the cans in from Galicia–princely sums were paid, including express shipping–compared to how little we spent for lovely tuna and everyday sardines at the Supermercado Atlántico.
But we had our Feast of the Seven Fishes, even if it was on January 15.
Lockdown has done strange things to commerce, to shipping. FedEx was once relentlessly on time, the brown truck of UPS a stalwart friend. You never saw the postman on Sundays, but you never doubted that a first-class letter would only take a day or two to cross the state, and less than a week to cross the country.
One of our packages of seafood–a treasure chest from Pedro at Tin Can Fish of Massachusetts–somehow came to us by way of Salt Lake City. While our bespoke polvo and precious choco marched straight to us (inside of three days), it took an extra two weeks to see a small box of high-end sardinhas run from Boston to our hamlet in Maryland. Unthinkable. But that’s what 2020 has done to us.
So we transitioned our Christmas Eve feast to a birthday treat for Stephen–a glorious complement to the marzipan-filled fruit-laced cake I baked for him–and so easy. Open tins, fork fish, plump onto crackers, and bite in. Crackle, snap, yum! A mess with the unctious oil dripping though our fingers, and a bit off our chins too, but so very tasty and hey, we’re home alone, so who cares?
It’s a romantic feast, rather than a reverent one. But we celebrated fully the fishes we missed from Portugal. The surprise favorite for S, given his dismissal of it for six solid years in PT? Bacalhau. The lemony rich flakes carried just a hint of salinity, making for luxurious piles on rosemary crackers. Perhaps this simple way is best when it comes to the beloved staple of the Tugas.
We washed down the mussels, smoked oysters, and our last tin of Santa Catarina atum with a bottle of Paxis rosé, and then the Colossal vinho branco, perfect mates, each cutting through the azeite with a bright streak of minerals, a lift of fruit, and just enough acidity. A toast to us, a parabéns to my love, and a whole lot of hope for 2021.