Spring break road trips can be so thrilling. After months of nose-to-the-grindstone work following Christmas, it feels exhuberently freeing to not only have a week of unscheduled time, but also an open road promising new views and experiences. The Garmin is charged, and the audio book is downloaded, Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal just to keep up the atmosphere. We couldn’t have greater expectations.
But before we leave Lisbon, I must say a little something about dried cod or bacalhau. Like other items from Portuguese cuisine, port wine, for example, it was developed to keep on long ship journeys. It is shocking how far around the world this tiny country got during the age of exploration. Bacalhau is undeniably Portugal’s national dish and no one seems to be a bit tired of it. If you ask a nice Portuguese wine merchant where he would recommend you have lunch, he will tell you, his eyes taking a far-away gaze, to have the bacalhau at the place around the corner. And this would be an excellent recommendation, the cod coming to your table breaded, then oven baked on a mound of savory onions, in a pool of olive oil. Now I am getting that far-away look in my own eyes. This is a good comfort food.