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The month of June - O Paparico and The Nature

"Times change, will change, One's changing, one's trust changes; The whole world is made up of change, Always taking on new qualities." - Luís Vaz de Camões

Happy and festive, June celebrates Portugal's Day, Camões' Day and Portuguese Communities' Day. It is the month of the festivities of the Popular Saints. It marks the change of season and the return of summer. Temperatures rise, bodies are undressed, social events multiply, and glasses are filled. The days are longer and the nights are wiser. New aromas are sensed in the air and the gastronomy itself harmonises accordingly. Nature is frankly generous, it is also time to celebrate it.  Seasonality as a starting point has provided O Paparico's cuisine with products of great cultural and gastronomic value.
 
The star-element of this month is the sardine and the argument is obvious. There is in our Menus a parochial nostalgia attached to Oporto's St. John. From the sea, we also receive the octopus, which has held its reputation for generations. However, it is Mother Earth that delights us with the greatness of her gifts. Oxheart tomatoes, peppers, summer truffles, wild mushrooms, purple clover, cherries and blueberries, among other products, encourage the creativity of our chefs and satisfy the souls and stomachs hungry for new food and emotions. 
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In the country that keeps fishing as a tradition, the sardine makes up a history of centuries of existence. It is a noble fish and simultaneously popular. This is the reason that justifies the sharp increase in its consumption during the summer festivities and festivals. It is even commonly used by the canning industry as a resource, both for its abundance and its nutritional quality. All these arguments, together with the affinity for fishing gear and the technical aptitude in the process of its capture, form the ideal conditions for the consumption of this fish in our country. The sardine has an undeniable economic and cultural role, but its value goes beyond that. It is important that it be managed as if it were a national treasure - which it is - in order to preserve it in our sea. As far as its nutritional attributes are concerned, it is rich in fatty acids, such as omega-3. It presents a list of therapeutic benefits, such as the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure, prevention of chronic diseases, and contributes to the reinforcement of the immune system.
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Straight from the earth, the oxheart tomato occupies a prominent place in O Paparico's cuisine and is also a favourite at the Portuguese table. Its sweet aroma and flavour are its most evident characteristics. Despite its robust appearance, it is a delicate product. Its firm texture adds crunchiness, which, together with the juiciness of the product itself, perfectly harmonises its composition. Very fleshy, with a thin skin and few seeds, it should be consumed ripe, when it presents a red colour, moment in which its organoleptic properties reach their peak. It provides great benefits for health. In addition to being low in calories, it has several nutritional properties for the organism. Composed mostly of water, it has a panoply of nutrients, such as vitamin C, A complex vitamins, potassium, B complex vitamins, magnesium, carotenoids, lycopene and vitamin K. All these components act to prevent cardiovascular diseases, and benefits functions such as vision, bone health, as well as skin health, and prevent certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer.

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The summer truffle begins its seasonality with the arrival of the season that gives it its name and lasts until the middle of autumn. It is also called the Tuber Aestivum or Saint-Jean truffle. It has rounded and irregular shapes and a rough surface that easily distinguishes it from the others. Its exterior is dark brown in colour and its interior is smooth and compact. Its aroma retains some intensity and has peculiar hazelnut notes. Although less popular than the black or white truffle, it is a unique and much appreciated product.

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Known as forest boys, chanterelles, or simply wild mushrooms, the Cantharellus Cibarius, fruits from spring, which is the start of its season, and ends in autumn. This mushroom grows in resinous environments with leafy vegetation. It lives in chalky and thermal soils and is easily found in woods under holm, cork, eucalyptus or pine trees. It is fleshy and tender, has a creamy-white colour and can be eaten as a whole. It is extremely aromatic, with a sweet apricot flavour. Nutritionally, it contains eight types of amino acids, fibre, protein and vitamin A.

The products we have been writing about throughout this article can be found in June's Menus at O Paparico and are considered to be part of the Salty Cuisine. There is, however, one product that takes us directly to the Pastry, which will allow us to end this narrative with a golden key.

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We finish - literally - with the cherry on top of the cake!
 
In the middle of the season, and bearing in mind that its periodicity is rather reduced, O Paparico has let itself fall in love with this juicy and tasty fruit. The cherry, originally from the Asian continent, found several years ago in Portugal, an excellent place for its cultivation. Resende, Trás-os-Montes and Beira-interior are its main producers.
 
Although they are predominantly consumed au naturel. They have a very noble gastronomic destiny, which reserves them a place at the table of classic recipes. There are also preservation and consumption methods, in jam, crystallised or in brine, which are much appreciated by the Portuguese.
 
Our cuisine, besides presenting a diverse selection of products, stands out for its goodness and nutritional qualities. Through new techniques, new ideas and influences, we tell stories from the north to the south of the country.
 
See you soon!