ProvidenceReviews

Fall River’s Portugalia Market is a Taste of the Old Country

Photography by Chris Vaccaro

My first bite of chourico was messy. The crisp, taut skin burst, dribbling hot, red grease down my chin, while my mouth burned from its heat. Smoky, spicy, packed with paprika, it was unlike any sausage I’d had before. When I moved to Pittsburgh for college, I scoured the supermarkets for a bite of home, searching for the elusive turkey chourico that I could easily find in my local Walmart back in West Greenwich, of all places. But the only version I discovered was of the Mexican variety and, with all due respect, it just wasn’t as good as the Portuguese links.

This was the start of my romance with Portuguese food, a small bite that grew into a full-blown affair after going to London and tasting the spicy Portuguese-South African piri piri chicken at Nando’s. A torrid relationship was born.

This is why, as I drive to Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, I can’t help but feel a tiny thrill of anticipation to learn more about this food that few outside of New England (or England) know about.

Portugalia is large. Tiny, acidic Azorean pineapples fill one display, while people with loaded carts mill around, some entering a massive, windowed room in the far right corner that showcases row upon row of splayed cod, salted until hard. Just outside the salt cod room, freezer bins are filled with octopi, squid, smelt, sardines and other sea specimens, and across the way, huge wheels of Azorean cheese are ripe for the noshing.

In one corner of the massive store, a man with wild curly hair lounges at a cafe called Ponto de Encontro, or meeting point, a fitting name since the man’s goal is to help shoppers get a taste of Portugal through this market.Continue Reading