Portuguese sights, sounds and tastes dominated the streets of Petersham at the suburb’s recent Portuguese Food and Wine Fair.
Petersham, known as Sydney’s little Portugal, was transformed on March 15 for The Bairro Português Petersham Food and Wine Fair hosted by the Marrickville Council at the corner of Audley and Fisher streets.
Stalls were decorated with colourful flags and customised banners representing Portuguese, Brazilian and Mediterranean cultures. Some stalls offered cultural keepsakes, food and beverages, while others promoted Portuguese tours and flights, as well as community radio and brochures.
Delicious foods and delightful aromas wafted through the air, luring the crowds as the sounds of Portuguese guitar and traditional Fado singers set the tone and captivated audiences. Portuguese folk dancing and Brazilian batucada players and dancers added life to the party.
Celebrating its 13th year, the festival attracted a multicultural audience, young and old, all wanting to experience the Portuguese, Brazilian and Mediterranean heritage coming together as one.
Guests included the Portuguese Consul-General in Sydney, Sofia Azevedo Batalha, representatives from Australia’s Portuguese Ethnographic Museum and Portuguese-language media owners Merita and Ilidio Teixeira, who run a radio station and the newspaper Journal Portugues.
“It is the one Portuguese event that we have each year and every year it has grown, from the first event hosting 4000 people through to last year’s record breaking number of around 16,000 visitors to the event,” Merita Teixeira told The Newsroom. “I don’t know about this year but it looks pretty crowded, so it appears like it will come close to those numbers again.”
The young Fado singer Ricardo Da Silva dominated centre-stage as master of ceremonies, introducing the Portuguese musician and singer Tony Latino, performing traditional contemporary style music, and Australian-born singer songwriter Jasmin Jones’s free-spirited indie acoustic style.
Fado is a uniquely Iberian musical mix, blending Moorish, African and Brazilian elements. Thought to have originated in the songs of medieval troubadours, it is considered an important form of world music.
The air was heavy with the heady aromatic scent of of exotic spices typical of Portuguese cuisine and reflecting a colonial and trading history that embraced the East. There were barbecued meats and fish, Peri-Peri chicken, Pork Vin d’Alho (the Goan curry from which we get the name vindaloo) and Rissois de Bacalhau (croquettes made with the Iberian classic, salted cod). Then there were the paellas, tacos, samosas, falafel and Turkish gozleme – all enticing and delicious.
The day proved there is a lot more to the Portuguese culture than custard tarts and Portuguese chicken. The Portuguese lifestyle fuses dance, music and delicious flavours. As the Portuguese say, try “Saúde! E bom apetite!” (to health and a good appetite) and “Até o próximo ano” (until next year). – Words and photos by Ana Neves