Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira
The Portuguese have an immense capability of making up jokes. The British are subtle, somewhat cold and accurately intelligent. The German seem to have no sense of humor, but they do… who lacks it are the Swiss, were it not the Helvetic Confederation a nest of bankers. Germans have mood bland but make puns.
A girl friend told me – German, by the way – that Portuguese humor is sadistic. It’s true! We laugh at the others’ misfortune, albeit of a non-existent character. We laugh at ourselves, which I value – shows intelligence through self-knowledge, critical thinking and relativization.
Some phenomenon takes place, anywhere in the world, and the Portuguese have already made ten jokes in the first half-an-hour following the incident. Many times we’re cruel and unfair. There’s probably no Portuguese that hasn’t heard yet the “Mr Fonseca” joke. On his deathbed he called his sons and taught them a cunning:
– Never forget, that wine can be made even from grapes.
Mr. Fonseca probably never did exist – must have been a product of bad taste jesting, citing a real person, and dated. Reflects a time when mass-production was highly valued, disregarding the quality.
We tend to call “a friend”, someone we’ve known for a month, ignoring his/her general flaws and virtues. However, since everything has a beginning, we like to say we’re making friends with someone we just met. Acquaintance sounds Swiss.
Some days ago I went to Gambrinus – an historic restaurant in Lisboa downtown – to drink some beers with two friends. One of them escaped early and I stayed chatting with my other friend, along with some beers and croquettes… Not fat whatsoever: a croquette has practically the necessary daily calories for an adult man.
At some point we looked to our side and we saw a gentleman with an oysters plate. He asked for a bottle Moët & Chandon, which gave us the opportunity to start talking. My friend, even more sociable than me, asked him as to why did he pick that wine.
Because he liked it, what else?! Oh, you know… we have amazing sparkling wines… and whatnot… how’s the wine? Words turn into conversation and there we were, long after the scheduled time, talking to the gentleman.
A nice man, easy talking, polite… have I mentioned gentleman?… Well, our interlocutor produces wine in the very warm region of Granja-Amareleja. Climatology was brought up, as well as the tilling, history and cuisine of that region.
Honestly, I can’t precise how many quarters of an hour did the conversation last. Several at the very least, and so pleasant they were not enough, latched by family commitments. Portuguese’s ability to make friends, and honesty the wine deserves, provided us a fine moment.
On the way out, our good conversationalist offered us a bottle of his wine. I didn’t know it. Guadelim Reserva 2009, designation of origin Granja-Amarela. Powerful and involving, with the heat from those whereabouts and far from being a soup or jelly. Shows holm-oak wood – obviously inexistent – translating a good integration and identification.
What’s left of that conversation? A desire to know the vineyards’ territory from where the grapes that made Guadelim came and… a warm night in this cold winter, dining with friends.
By the way, Guadelim is the name of a river. It might be Godelim, from the Arabic, it means “fountain river”, and mixes with Germanic. Yes, even with dictionaries… water is made.