An Azorean Christmas

Seeing as we had no real plans for Christmas, when our neighbor invited us over, we decided to go.  If we said no and then they were there to see we weren't doing anything anyway, it would look odd and we may never be invited over again.  So, we decided to join in with their traditional Azorean Christmas celebration with their family.  I guess it may be similar to a Portuguese Christmas, but since the island is isolated, they probably have their own customs as well.

This is actually our neighbors sister, who is also our fantastic housekeeper.  She is so sweet although i don't understand much of what she says.  This is her husband and in this picture they were offering us sweets or "American" goodies before the meal.

This was the only traditional Azorean treat on this table.  As best I can tell these were little Dona Amelias, which is the traditional sweet of the island.  They are sooooo delicious.

I was happy to see they also like my fave jelly beans...the starbust kind.  Ok, ok, I'm lying a little.  I really like jelly belly the best, but this is the next right after those goodies.

We were happy to see they all like Bud too.

This is a traditional dish, which I believe is pork.  The resemble the ones our landlord brought over for our bullfight party.

They made a ham...

These are similar to potatoes, but are a different kind of root veggie.  It had an interesting taste, a little sweet and a little salty.  They told me the name in Portuguese and it sounds like it had yam in, but it's not a yam, and I still can't tell ya what exactly it is...other than something that is native to this island!

This is alcatra.  This is the traditional island dish...they are famous for this.  It is cooked in a clay dish or tile.  My neighbor made Ryan some the night before Christmas and so I am saving all the details of this dish for it's own post.  In other words...more to come.

The traditional and oh so yummy bread.

Ok, here is where I started to feel bad.  I didn't tell them I am a vegetarian because I did not want to have them go through any trouble to make something special.  I also didn't know if they would undertsnad well enough to know what I do and what I do not eat (since I eat dairy, eggs and fish/seafood, but nothing from beef, pork, chicken or other animals, including gelatin or broths, so you can see with the language barrier I just didn't want to explain).  They felt SOOOOO bad and kept apologizing for not having anything prepared for me.  So Maria (neighbor) and Ashelina (her sister and our housekeeper) along with my neighbors daughter who speaks English, prepared for me this dish or fried eggs and these little fried turnovers filled with tuna, onion and spices.  These little tuna things were delicious.  But I felt so bad for the trouble they went through to prepare me something special.

Now on to dessert.  This had gelatin in it so I passed, but Ryan did like it.

I did not pass on this one though.  It was cake on the bottom, with cream and like a chocolate mousse.

They also had a very nice fruit salad.

Then it was time for all the kids and adults too to open their presents.  The gifts just kept coming and coming.

They did give Ryan a mug and us a table cloth and some embroidered linens with Christmas designs.

Ryan also gave me some mroe of my presents.  I totally got a slap chop!  You know you're jealous!  And of course another bread machine cook book.

Last, but not least, our landlord gave us this, which we REALLY wanted.  This is a serving tray with tiles (which is the traditional craft on the island).  This is a bull fight scene.  They paint these scenes as big or as little as you want.  We are so happy to have received one of these.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday if you celebrate Christmas.  If you are Jewish...I hope you enjoyed your Chinese food and an movie (or some variation, haha!)...

QUESTION:  What was your favorite present you received this year?  What was the best part of your meal yesterday?


Emily said...

Looks like you had a fun celebration with lots of good eats. The tiled tray you received is just beautiful.

My fave gift was probably the Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon. :-)

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Oh how nice of your neighbors!! The food all looks fantastic. I love seeing what everyone eats on Christmas. My favorite thing yesterday were my uncles meatballs, and Nick's mom also made some amazing meatballs! I think I'm going to turn into a meatball here in a second....haha

Favorite gift; my Magic Bullet, and my Garmin!! I needed both, very bad.

Happy Holidays!

D said...

Hello, I ran across your blog when doing a search for the Azores, my grandparents were born there and I still have cousins on Terceira.
The potato like vegetable I believe is an inhame or taro root.

MelindaRD said...

That's it! Inhame, that was what they told me I think. Thanks Deanne so much for your help. The Azores are an amazing place and I love living here.

Anonymous said...

I think being part of the holidays in another country can be a bit awkward (especially if you don't speak the language, have different beliefs, different eating habits, etc.), but it is also SOOO rewarding and lets you get a "true look" at a culture. I'm glad you got to have this experience... :)

We only give gifts to the toddler (the teenager got a trip), and seeing him open and play with his new toys was so much fun. I tried to keep the food healthy and made a chickpea stew with dill; I love that dish so much, so that was my favorite part...

lynn said...

everything looks terrific! i was happy to be surrounded by family - since i live far away from them i was just grateful to be with them.

Nutritious is Delicious said...

Looks like alot of fun! I really enjoyed all of the sweets yesterday! My favorite present...I can't pick! haha

chow and chatter said...

oh what a great experience though it was tough for you, my mum in law is on a strict diet no meat, onion garlic or eggs and wont eat out and even uses her own utensils LOL
thanks for sharing

Love Rebecca

Anonymous said...

That fruit salad looks good! I had Christmas family dinner today...we had this amazing mac & cheese. NOt the traditional holiday food, but it was honestly probably my favorite part of the meal!

Naomi(Onefitfoodie) said...

wow that looked delish and such interesting food they had! I am so glad you had a nice time! haha as you see, I did enjoy my chinese AND Japense food and we watched the hangove on demand, LOVED IT!

kristen :) said...

I just think it is so neat to see how other cultures celebrate holidays! I think that's so sweet of them to prepare something for you, awwh! What great neighbors you have :) All of it looks wonderful! Our main gift to each other was a flight here and just enjoying time with my family is what makes it the best :) Hope you continue to have a good holiday and happy new year!
NC is pretty chilly in the winter!! brr They get a little snow and freezing rain, but I do like the extra moisture in the air.

Unknown said...

nom nom nom! looks like you had a merry Christmas for a JOO. i did too. i think my favorite present was a swearter from the loft from matts parents...and of coutse the necklace matt got me (but that was for hanukkah i think). LOL :) its hard to keep track!

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