My father migrated to the United States from St. Michael, Portugal in 1966 when he was just 11 years old. His family, two parents, 7 sisters and a brother couldn’t all come together at the time, although they eventually all made it through. He has told me time and time again the story of the long journey that took them first to family who lived in Canada before settling in their final destination of Fall River, Massachusetts. His most vivid memory of that trip is the first meal he ate with his Portuguese-Canadian family as they arrived and it was “Ervilhas com Chouriço” – Chourico and Peas.
I have often tried to imagine what it must have been like for my adolescent father and the thousands of other children to include my mother (age 9) who emigrated here in the 1960’s from Portugal. They came to America, with their families, in search of a new life – a better life for their children. They left behind family and friends and everything they knew. I try to imagine, at the tender age of 11, trying to learn a new language. I imagine entering a school where everyone including all my teachers can not communicate with me. To learn a new culture and a new way of doing just about everything. What becomes vivid to me is being scared, excited, confused and very dependent on anything familiar I might come upon. So, nearly 50 years later, my father recalls his family in Canada serving him and his siblings and parents “Ervilhas com Chouriço” a Portuguese comfort food. Funny how food has a way of comforting and connecting people.
Here is my version of “Ervilhas com Chouriço”:
Chouriço & Peas recipe:
1/2 lb. Hot Chouriço, sliced
2 lbs. frozen (or fresh) peas
1 medium yellow onion, quartered and sliced
1 T. ground red pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can beer
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2 t. Portuguese all spice
kosher salt to taste
In a large pot saute onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add in chouriço and garlic, saute. Add in fresh or frozen peas, mix and then immediately add in beer, tomato sauce, pepper, all spice and salt. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to medium low. Cook for 15-20 mins. Add in eggs one at a time. Cook 5-6 mins. Enjoy!
note: For gluten-free preparation, substitute beer with chicken stock or a gluten-free beer.