• 2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh red crushed pepper "Pimento Moida" or 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Portuguese or Spanish olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground Assafroa spice
  • 1 tablespoon ground Temperos Portugueses spice
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 10 little neck clams, scrubbed well
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My hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts was naturally my very first stop on my national book tour for YOU NEVER COOK ALONE. Hard to believe that what started out as a dream is now so much fun for our entire family –both immediate and extended.

My two sons, Nathaniel and Alexander, and Nathaniel’s girlfriend, Amanda, joined me for the trip to Massachusetts. During the ride we enjoyed playing car games, listening to the mix cds my son, Alex, put together for the trip, listening to Garrison Keillor from the Prairie Home Companion (which you know I just adore) and the stops at all of our favorite restaurants. My oldest son, Nathaniel, was an excellent, very helpful and appreciated co-pilot as well. Between the two of us, the trip went pretty quickly and thankfully uneventful (besides all the fun we had). Amanda and I did have to restrain ourselves however at the Cracker Barrel Gift Shop!

I love this picture of Alex with his sunglasses on. The song we were listening to went somethin’ like … “highway to the danger zone…” from the movie Top Gun…we all knew the words and sang as loudly as we could. Alex fit the bill!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and my favorite part of the trip to Fall River (besides stopping at all the great restaurants : – ) was listening to the song YMCA by the Village People. We not only sang the song together, but made the letters Y, M, C, A with our hands. Of course I had to improvise because I naturally had one hand on the wheel! You should have seen the funny looks we got from folks as we drove down the highway!

Several hours later (thirteen to be exact), we arrived in Massachusetts safely. Keeping with family tradition, Mom had two of our favorite sandwiches waiting for us –her Portuguese Chourico Sandwiches and  Chicken Salad Sandwiches!

 

Welcoming the press to Vavo’s kitchen…

During my visit to Fall River, Phil Devitt from the Fall River Spirit and Melissa Costa from O’Jornal (an international Portuguese newspaper) interviewed me in what was my grandmother’s tiny basement kitchen –the place where it all began. Phil’s article can be read here. Melissa’s is here.

There, in Vavo’ s tiny basement kitchen on Coral Street, we sat enjoying hot cups of coffee, my best brownies (which I made with my sister, April, in her home one morning over a cup of tea) and of course Massa, or Portuguese Sweet Bread talking about my grandmother, family, and the importance of building legacies by cooking and eating together. This place had been my refuge. It was here in this tiny kitchen I felt secure and loved. I wondered what my grandmother was thinking above. I knew she was smiling from ear to ear, most likely calling all of her friends and relatives over to the cloud above us to watch the interview take place around the table we spent so much time around.  The Fall River Spirit was kind enough to place our family on the front of the newspaper. Both journalists wrote beautiful articles that brought me to tears.

 

 

REWIND: Vavo’s kitchen remains untouched after all these years…

You can view pictures and read the story behind my first trip back to Vo’s kitchen last summer after twenty years here. It was then that I realized my uncle had left the entire house as it was before her passing– like a museum.

In between interviews we made time to visit some of our favorite stops in Fall River with Amanda!

Like…

The Lizzie Borden Gift Shop, and yes, that’s an axe-shaped cookie cutter…and, of course I bought it for Halloween –could you resist?

 

I did not have any trouble resisting one item however…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always wondered what type of individual would purchase the Lizzie Borden House and turn it into a bed and breakfast/museum.

 

Old friends, New Friends and an amazing turnout

While in Fall River, I had the pleasure of meeting Fall River’s mayor, Will Flanagan, Friday afternoon before the book signing at my old grammar school, Sts. Peter and Paul. Mayor Flanagan received my book, YOU NEVER COOK ALONE, and my letter. He invited my family and me to his office and then joined us later that evening for the book signing/ceremony. What a delightful man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed visiting some of our friends at our favorite Portuguese grocery stores like Acoreana and Mellos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sts. Peter and Paul School, my old alma-mater, invited me to their end-of-the-year award ceremony. They also hosted a book signing for me during the ceremony. The line was out the door, the parking lot filled and one gentleman told us he’d waited one hour and fifteen minutes in line. How warmed was my heart!

I was also honored to share the evening with distinguished alumnus Steven Cobery, who has been performing lifesaving surgeries on combat victims while serving as an Army neurosurgeon in Afghanistan. What a hero! Many thanks to Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan and the Herald News for coming out for the book signing! You can read more about the evening here.

Amazed at the turn-out, Fall River mayor, Will Flanagan, thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate my first book and embrace me like only the Portuguese people of Fall River can. Sts. Peter and Paul has always held a special place in my heart and I was thrilled to have coverage for the school I attend so many years ago. I loved seeing Sr. Eleanor Little, my fifth grade teacher, as well. Sr. Eleanor is acknowledged in my book because although I stuttered horrifically, she saw the writer in me.
As a child, Sr. Eleanor pulled me aside one day after I turned in a paper and said, “Elise, you may not be able to speak, but you can certainly write!” A signed copy of my book, YOU NEVER COOK ALONE, was presented to her. A gentleman stopped by to purchase a book for the principal, Theresa Dougall of my old high school, Bishop Stang which also warmed my heart.
I very much enjoyed seeing childhood friends and classmates like Tracie (Pavao) Macdonald, Christine (Mendoza) Souza, Kerry Walsh, Tracie (DiFonzo) Rheaume, Ellen (Jackson) Mccabe, Kathy Jackson, their families and many more. Seeing Kathy Burt, principal of St. Pete’s and my godmother, was amazing as well. The next time I’m in Fall River I’ll be making a special dinner just for her and Father Steve!  Father Steve was a priest I grew up with. He was alwasy so funny and when I saw him, he looked at me with a big smile on his face. I replied, “…if I wasn’t married…(a second later)… and you weren’t a priest!” Everyone including the press laughed especially Father Steve! The Herald News wrote a beautiful article about the book signing which can be found here.
Relatives I hadn’t seen in over twenty years came out to rejoice with and support me as well. It was a family reunion I’ll never forget! I know my grandmother was smiling from Heaven because her presence was felt. It was like the Christmas Eves I had remembered growing up. All of the relatives were together at my grandmother’s house!

My cousin Greta and I got chocked up as she remarked, “This feels just like Christmas Eve at Vavo’s house.” That will be a moment I will not soon forget…the reason for writing the book was to build legacies and I felt like I had done just that.

The Big Mamie

We also visited one of our favorite spots, the Big Mamie,or Battleship Massachusetts at Battleship Cove. I actually worked in the restaurant on the ship as a teenager. I loved that job!

Battleship Massachusetts was built in Quincy, Massachusetts at the Fore River Shipyard of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The ship was launched on September 23, 1941 and holds the record as the heaviest ship ever launched in Quincy. “Big Mamie”, as her crew knew her, was delivered to the Boston Navy Yard in April 1942 and commissioned the following month.

Following her shakedown period Battleship Massachusetts went into action on November 8, 1942 as part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. While cruising off the city of Casablanca, Morocco, the Battleship engaged in a gun duelwith the unfinished French battleship Jean Bart, moored at a Casablanca pier. In this battle, Massachusetts fired the first American 16″ projectile in anger of World War II. Five hits from Big Mamie silenced the enemy battleship, and other 16″ shells from Battleship Massachusetts helped sink two destroyers, two merchant ships, a floating dry-dock, and heavily damaged buildings and docks in Casablanca.

I love this picture of Alex looking off into the distance and my mom and dad enjoying the beautiful view of the city they grew pup in.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and the food…

While visiting Fall River we ate Portuguese sweet bread, stuffed quahogs, Chow Mein Sandwiches at  Mee Sums, and my father, who also loves to cook, made Portuguese marinated pork, also known as Alentejana and in a word — it was outstanding!  A little bit of this, and a little bit of that plus a lot of love made the perfect comfort food.

 

While visiting the Portuguese markets in Fall River, I picked up two Portuguese spices –both the Acoreana and Mellos grocers carry and ship these spices.

 

 

Assafroa is pure safflower, adds a wonderful color and flavor to egg and rice dishes and works great in marinades for Portuguese meat, pork, fish and poultry recipes. This spice worked beautifully in this recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

Another spice that I found added so many flavor and color to this dish was Temperos Portugueses is also great for meat marinades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found both of these spices  at the Acoreana Market  in Fall River for 50% less than other grocers or online sites costing only $1.59. What a great price!

 

Portuguese Pork and Littleneck Clams

In a plastic storage bowl, add pork, white wine, red crushed pepper, olive oil, Assafroa and Temperos Portugueses. Close the bag tightly, place in bowl and move the mixture around with your hands. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best for maximum flavor.

Heat a skillet and melt your butter. Add pork and marinade, cover and  simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until the pork is tender. Add the clams, cover and simmer five minutes more or until all clams open up.

Be sure to add salt to taste if you are not using fresh red pepper. Enjoy!