Paris had ruined all my romantic notions of the western European city. A single city – littered, rude, cheap and crass, and to me long ago, it symbolized all of Europe. Overrated and overpriced, and so I had gone on imagining the rest of urban Europe to be much the same. That is until Lisbon.
Lisbon feels tropical, connected to Africa, on a biting cold day, and in its southern sun, like a mix and match of its neighbor’s architectures. It is colored in a smudgy gray, festooned with pinks and canaries and aquas and limes. Its slight inhabitants dress urbanely like their country cousins; just in tighter weaves.
Over lunch a long time ago with a Portuguese friend, I came up with the idea of hosting a Portuguese Empire party; literally a party themed on Portugal's historical colonial empire. Let's forget for brevity its success or outcome. I came up with this idea with only the faintest notion of what Portugal is, or was. Perhaps it was subconsciously strategic that the two food critics at my old school newspaper were both Portuguese, and that sure, they'd love to help and do the cooking.