A Letter from Grandma

Thursday May 2, 2013

By Wendy Ponte

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="A letter revealed Grandma's recipe for Bacalhau"][/caption] Today I was looking through an old cookbook that was my parents, Peter Hunt's Cape Cod Cookbook, dated 1962. I remember looking through it when I was a kid and noticing all of the Portuguese recipes alongside the recipes for beach plum jelly and New England Boiled Dinner. My Portuguese family came from New Bedford, right near the mouth of the Cape. New Bedford, of course, is a huge enclave of immigrants from Madeira and the Azores, and the Cape also had (and still has, although to a lesser degree) a lot of Portuguese in the Provincetown area. When I was in college in Boston, we would stay up all night and then drive out to the Cape to have scrambled eggs with linguiƃa for breakfast. The real surprise came when a letter from my grandmother fell out of the pages! Grandma was a prolific reader, but not really a prolific writer, so whenever I discover something that she wrote, I want to devour it. At first I thought it was going to be a note about the cookbook itself. Maybe it was a gift from them to my mother? Hint, hint: cook Portuguese food for your husband! In those days I don't think any real Portuguese cookbooks even existed. And maybe the letter did come with the book, or maybe it just got stuffed in there at some point, but the letter mostly comments on how well-behaved I was on my last visit to them and wants to know what they should buy for my next birthday. But the real treat was a few lines that began,
The way I cook the codfish is this way...
I've been looking for more of my family's recipes, so that was a thrill. And cooking dried salted codfish is one of the backbones of Portuguese cooking, both on the mainland and on the islands, where my family comes from. Here is Grandma Adelaide's method for cooking Basic Bacalhau.


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