Traditions

Holding the fish
sleeping sweetly
among the chips
and cabbage
neatly
Chew around
each silent
table
conversing
generations1
able
at all hours
sipping fine
with a subtle sandwich
green soup
and wine
no pretension
in plate or price
just honest tradition
blessed in each slice.

  1. Restaurante Manuel Alves in Porto, Bonfim has been family-run for almost four generations. It is an example of the strength of honest Portuguese tradition faced with waves of “fast food” and “international” fashions. Hence rendered into Portuguese:

    Tradições
    Segurando o peixe
    que dorme docemente
    entre as batatas fritas
    e as couves
    com elegância
    a mastigar
    cada um em silêncio
    mesa
    à conversa
    gerações
    disponível
    a todas as horas
    bebendo bem
    com uma subtil sandes
    sopa de vegetais
    e vinho
    sem pretensão
    de prato ou de preço
    apenas tradição honesta
    abençoada em cada fatia.
    (translated by F.J. Topa). []

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..