Portugal & Madeira News from Paul Abbiati:
Portuguese President Inauguration speech
Portuguese President calls for a political and social consensus
“Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva said on Wednesday he would cooperate with the minority Socialist government to help solve the country’s debt crisis.
Image caption: Portuguese President Cavaco Silva in centre in 1998 meeting Jose Socrates Portuguese Primeminister on right and Dmitry Medvedev on the left.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for his second term, Cavaco Silva, who is from the main opposition Social Democrats, also called for a political and social consensus to work out a medium-term strategy for Portugal to leave behind what he called its “emergency economic situation”.
The president has largely ceremonial powers in Portugal but can dissolve parliament and sack the government under a vaguely-worded constitutional clause assuming a case when “democratic institutions are at risk”.
Cavaco Silva’s speech suggested he is not inclined to use these powers, considered by some analysts as a potential political risk that could exacerbate Portugal’s economic woes.
“To the government and prime mininster, I reiterate my commitment to cooperation,” he said, promising a mandate with a firm dedication to safeguard national interests.
Prime Mininster Jose Socrates, in his turn, promised “loyal institutional cooperation on behalf of the government and myself, which is what the Portuguese await from us.”
Cavaco Silva made no reference to the possibility of Portugal requesting an international bailout, a move the market considers as all but inevitable. Socrates is firmly opposed to a rescue package.
Cavaco Silva has previously said that if the International Monetary Fund was to intervene, that would mean that the government has failed.
Earlier on Wednesday, Portugal’s two-year cost of borrowing hit the highest level since it joined the euro in a bond auction and the government said yields were unsustainable in the long run without Europe-wide action.
He made his comments came just two days before the first of this month’s two European summits, where euro zone leaders will discuss the situation in Portugal and take the next cautious steps in their year-long effort to quell the region’s debt crisis.”
Malasadas: right temperature, right size, right talent
“When the bread didn’t rise people couldn’t afford to waste it, so they started to fry it. In Portuguese “mal” means bad and “assada” means dough, so malasadas really is “bad dough.” They said a great malasada comes from a combination of the right temperature, the right size, and the right talent…”
“A malasada (or malassada) is a Portuguese confection. They were first made by inhabitants of Madeira Island. Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Traditionally the reason for making malasadas has been to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, luxuries forbidden from consumption during Lent. Malasadas are eaten especially on Mardi Gras – the day before Ash Wednesday.
In Madeira they eat Malasadas mainly on Terça-feira Gorda (Fat Tuesday in English) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira, the reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent (much in the same way the tradition of Pancake Day in the UK originated on Shrove Tuesday), Malasadas are sold along side the Carnival of Madeira today. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 19th century, the resident Catholic Portuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.”
“In 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira and Azores came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the “malasada.” Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas.
Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”), the day before Lent, is also known as Malasada Day in Hawaii. Being predominantly Catholic, Portuguese immigrants would need to use up all of their butter and sugar prior to Lent. They did so by making large batches of malasadas, which they would subsequently share with friends from all the other ethnic groups in the plantation camps. This led to the popularity of the malasada in Hawaii.
In the United States, malasadas are cooked in many Portuguese or Portuguese descendant homes on Fat Tuesday. It is a tradition where the older children take the warm doughnuts and roll them in the sugar while the eldest woman—mother or grandmother—cooks them. Many people prefer to eat them hot. They can be reheated in the microwave, but then they will have absorbed the sugar, providing a slightly different flavor and texture.
Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malasada
Portugal has most of the rare seabirds species in Europe
RSPB working with SPEA
“Portugal is especially important to the RSPB because its Atlantic archipelagos support some of the rarest bird species in Europe, namely the endemic Azores Bullfinch, the Madeiran Petrel and the Desertas petrel.
Portugal also includes magnificent natural sites and habitats, including internationally important marshlands, and high nature value farmland, such as the spectacular cork oak ‘montados’ across large parts of the country. Many of these are also very important sites for migratory species.”
O Cagarro – Cory Shearwater Bird of the Year 2011
The biggest colony of these birds (Calonectris diomedea) is located on the Savage Islands, Madeira.
“..the largest sea bird that breed in Madeira Archipelago. It is a migrant bird with white underparts, long and slightly rounded wings and dark brown and grey upper parts. It has a greyish head with no marked cap and a yellowish thin bill. Cory’s Shearwaters flight is relaxed low, very close to sea and weaving its body through the waves.
In the Madeira archipelago this bird is present between March and October, for the breeding season. It spends the remaining months of the year on the high seas. Corys can be seen on all islands of the archipelago with Selvagens having the biggest number of birds per square meter. In Madeira Island it is common to hear them after sunset near the coastline all around the island.
In Madeira, this species nest mainly in sea cliffs while in Selvagens it builds its nests on holes on the ground or under big rocks, but never too far from the ocean. Though the best habitat to observe this bird is on a seawatching trip
Cory’s Shearwaters build their nests in holes in rocky sea cliffs or burrows on the ground. It lays one egg on the unique annual brood, between May and June. Incubation period is 54 days and the chick leaves its nest by October.”
RSPB working with SPEA