Custard, Cod, Cork & Cat: Portugal

From Holy Toledo, we drove west six hours in the rain to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.  We were hosted by John’s cousin Paul’s friend of 40 years, Nuno.  They were CISV leaders together for an international interchange between Detroit and Lisbon.  Besides showing us the city, up and down some of the steepest hills we’ve ever seen, Nuno, his wife Rosario, and daughter Mariana hosted us for a wonderful Sunday dinner featuring the national dish, baked codfish with onions, potatoes, and spices.  We are SO grateful!


This is what the dried, salted cod looks like in the store, all stacked up in piles on pallets.  There’s a Cod Department and an Everything Else Department.  And it’s, um, fragrant.


Here’s Nuno buying us some famous custard pies in Belém:


Then we drove south to the Algarve.  We had lunch on a windy beach the next day with the surf roaring in the background.


Here’s a Portugese guy and his son, fishing with Cape St. Vincent in the background.  It’s the end of Europe, really.  Next stop, as Columbus found out, is the (West) Indies.


John got all excited about cork trees and production, and we took a tour.  More than a third of the world’s cork grows in Portugal, in plantations that look like well-tended forests.  Here are some disks made from the bark:


Here’s another Portugese guy stripping the bark off a cork tree.  You can start using the bark for wine bottle stoppers about 43 years after planting.  This photo comes from

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This man has been working with cork all his adult life.  He’s trimming sheets of the stuff after it emerges from being boiled and pressed flat.  The stacks of cork bark reminded us of the Cod Department in the supermarket.


We spent several nights in a lovely campground on the south coast of Portugal, hosted by this cat, who seems to own the place.  Lynnell fed her.  John tried not to get upset when the cat got into his cooking, into the tent, and into the van.




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I am the Upper School Chaplain at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota, USA., an Episcopal priest, and the author of the world religions text "Tree of World Religions," available on I've also done two lessons for TED-Ed.

One thought on “Custard, Cod, Cork & Cat: Portugal”

  1. Yum! Eat some Bacalao for me!!
    Looks like you are having a blast–we miss you. Rain and hail today…50 degrees…very strange. Happy thanksgiving. Love,


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