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The month of September - O Paparico and The Nature

"You are the hope, the dawn. You were born on September afternoons when the light is perfect and more golden, and there is a spring growing in the silence of the darkest and most closed mouth." - Eugénio de Andrade

September marks the transition between summer and autumn. In it we witness the end of one cycle, to soon give rise to another. It is milder, calmer, in which routine is resumed and the bustle of work and school life is felt little by little. The hustle and bustle of the children and younger people, the rushing cars, and the adults drunk with new dreams and ambitions fill the streets of the town, enlivening it.

And nature does not stop... it stripes off its clothing and slowly assumes other forms... the frenzy, which is not only felt in the big cities, is also present in the fields and on the high seas, where the hustle and bustle of farming and fishing is experienced. The land is prepared for autumn-winter sowing. This process occurs after ploughing and involves harrowing the soil, making it uniform and preparing it for the fertilisation phase, so that the seeds can later grow healthily. Already in the open sea, the tides are generous and augur an excellent fishing season. The fishing grounds are clean and the seabed is rough. At this point, fish find it very difficult to feed, which means that in the period immediately afterwards - when the balance is restored, the sands settle and the waters are clear - they become more active in search of food and therefore more likely to be caught.

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There is an irreproachable logic in nature, everything connects skilfully and gently and it is this metric that inspires us and through which we create our Menus. In September we highlight the amberjack of the Azores as the star product, but from the sea, we also serve cod at the table. From the land, we harvest yam, sweet potato and kidney beans.

Not only to eat, but to contemplate, the amberjack is a noble and rare fish due to its seasonality. Although abundant along our coastline - especially that of the Azores archipelagoes - it is as yet little known to the Portuguese.

Being subjected to strong currents, it is a voluptuous fish. Its reinforced musculature also includes some fat. Its unctuousness is one of the reasons why it is so tasty. In addition, it has discrete olfactory notes of seaweed present in its habitat. Its flesh is soft, although it reveals a consistent body with a firm texture. Inside, it shows a whitish colour, except near the skin, where it has a pinkish tone. It is magnificent to savour raw.

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The codfish, considered by many to be the faithful friend of the Portuguese, has a great legacy in terms of our country's gastronomy. In fact, its role has already gone beyond that of food, to become an icon of Portuguese expression. It inhabits the icy Arctic seas - Norway, Greenland, Iceland and North America - but it is to the Portuguese that it owes its inclusion in human eating habits.

From the Gadidae family, it has the scientific name "gadus morhua", which we have fished and consumed for thousands of years, commonly known as Atlantic cod. It can be eaten fresh, with a delicate flavour. But it is salted - dried by the salting method - which is usually found in Portugal. Afterwards, it is soaked and only then consumed. It is an animal with a robust and distinct body, its meat is slightly unctuous - it is considered a lean fish - but very tasty and succulent.

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Yam and sweet potato are two tubers with a very high nutritional and gastronomic value. Both products are healthy sources of carbohydrates and fibre. They have a low glycaemic index and a very rich and complete vitamin and mineral content. The consumption of both has a positive impact on health and helps prevent numerous diseases, namely cardiovascular diseases and several types of cancer, mainly due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. It should be noted that, as far as the nutritional table is concerned, yams have fewer calories than sweet potatoes. Another factor that distinguishes them is the taste itself, in the first case the taste is peculiar and slightly bitter and in the second, as the name indicates, it is sweeter.

Finally, the kidney bean is a leguminous plant with a very specific flavour and aroma. It is sweet and slightly earthy and has a creamy, smooth texture, which makes it easy to cook and very versatile in terms of consumption. Its grains are slightly pinkish in colour, with details of a darker shade. It is rich in fibre and protein, as well as minerals and vitamins.