New Bedford, Massachusetts, has a strong connection to Portugal and the Portuguese culture. Portuguese immigrants began arriving in the city in the mid-19th century, working in the whaling industry and later the textile mills. Over time, the Portuguese community grew and became an integral part of the city’s culture and economy. Today, New Bedford is home to one of the largest Portuguese-American community in the country, with a vibrant downtown area filled with Portuguese restaurants, markets, and cultural events.
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Maria meets Cassie Canastra, whose family operates the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction, where buyers bid on the freshest catch of the day. Cassie shares her passion for the industry and the auction’s role in providing a fair price for fishermen’s hard work. Maria then learns how to cook scallops with Cassie, a local delicacy that’s simple to prepare and delicious to eat.
Maria also visits the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where she steps aboard a half-scale model of a whaling ship and imagines what life was like for the captain and crew at sea for months on end. Maria learns about the Portuguese sailors who joined the whaling industry in the 19th century and formed a strong connection between Portugal and New Bedford.
Next, Maria meets Jessica, owner of Tia Maria’s European Cafe, a family-owned restaurant that serves traditional Portuguese dishes. Together, they cook bacalhau a bras, a popular dish made with salted cod, eggs, onions, and potatoes. Jessica discusses her family’s recipe and the history of the dish, passed down through generations.
Finally, Maria attends the Madeiran Feast, the largest Portuguese feast in the world, held annually in New Bedford every summer. Maria meets the festival organizers and learns about the festival’s history and cultural significance. She samples traditional foods like bolo do caco, and carne de espeto, top sirloin meat cooked on six-foot-long skewers. The feast is a celebration of Portuguese culture and community, and Maria leaves feeling reconnected to her heritage.