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The month of November - O Paparico and The Nature

“Sometimes I hear the wind passing by, and just to hear the wind passing by is worth having been born.” – Fernando Pessoa

November advances unsettled by the tumultuous rains that assault the window sills. Nevertheless, this deep and nostalgic tone reminds us of moments of rest and serenity.  The shortest days have an address in the coziness of home. The cold gets into the already-covered bodies, which sigh for a touch of extra comfort. And it is in this scenario that gastronomy is rediscovered. As food, it involves and warms the deepest part of the being; as a premise, it lays the foundations for the mental concept of home, shelter, of family. Leading us to what is dear to us.

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In savoury cuisine, this idea of comfort flavour is filled with the return of the hunting season. This is the main reason why the mallard duck is the product in evidence at O Paparico. Strong and robust, it can be found from north to south of Portugal. It is scientifically named Anas platyrhynchos and is a member of the Anatidae family. A curious fact about this animal is that it has sexual dysmorphism. This is why the male presents a more vivid colouration than the female. From a gastronomic point of view, it has lean meat, not unctuous at all, with a dense and compact texture but soft and tender. Its iron taste is definitely impacting and peculiar. A distinctive characteristic, inherent to game animals is that show a great physical effort due, essentially, to migratory phenomena.

Simultaneously, the day of Saint Martin is celebrated, a date jointly known as "Magusto", in which the chestnut - even being considered a humble element - manifests a prestigious purpose. In fact, there are excerpts of memories, where it is still possible to colour the tips of fingers blackened by the cartridges made of newspaper. These gently embraced the roasted chestnuts that were often sold in small iron carts scattered throughout the city.

In a historical and gastronomic approach, chestnut is closely linked to the Beira and Trás-os-Montes recipes, according to which it is commonly presented as a substitute for potatoes and bread itself. It is found inside the hedgehog - the fruit of the chestnut tree - but, unlike other seeds, it has less fat and higher levels of starch. It is perfectly versatile in terms of its confection and applicability.

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Due to the seasonal effect of autumn, we have finally rescued the apple persimmon. A generous and multifaceted fruit, it adds a sweetness that is occasional - but striking - to a creation that is expected to be brackish. Produced mostly in the Algarve area, it is scientifically known as persimmon kaki. It has a color that varies between orange and yellowish, its flesh is firm and consistent, compared to the apple, but much sweeter than the latter when ripe.

As far as the pastry is concerned, the pomegranate enhances the richness of seasonal products. Considered the love fruit, this autumn's jewel gave origin to a refreshing, slightly sweet creation, but at the same time, enveloping. It is resistant, which allows it to remain in good condition for a long period. Its interior is subdivided by thin layers of skin, which contain small seeds covered by crimson-colored pulp. When ripe, they are extremely sweet and juicy, reaching their peak of consumption in the autumn months.

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