Tascas – Porto’s Lively Urban Ecosystems
25 Jan, 2017, By Manuel A.
Here in Portugal we have a typical establishment called tascas. On the one hand they are similar to the Spanish bodegas or British pubs as they also sell wine, beer and other beverages at cheap prices, on the other hand they are completely different because food and music also have a great influence in these places’ ambience and business.
The traditional tasca is usually a small space neither stylish nor modern at all, frequently crowded and “bubbling” with lively football or politics related arguments. People gather up at the end of the day to have a quick snack and a drink, and some of them end up spending all night there.
In fact the relationship between those who attend tascas is so great, that some tend to create a special bond, making their fellow customers a sort of “brothers in cups”. Tascas are as lively as a family reunion around a table, but this time at a counter: people chanting, eating, drinking, usually engaging in arguments that no one really knows how’ve started – stretching from football and reality shows to the state of the country – and everybody on the brink of a fight. But everything ends up well, with everybody embracing and making fun of each other.
I believe these are the best places to taste traditional, ‘grandma’s’ type of food, from hot bowls of soup, heavy stews, and dazzling fish roasts, to sugary and fat sweets and pastry. Petiscos (small, cheap dishes, similar to the Spanish tapas) are the main attraction in these places, where you can find from spicy chicken gizzard to octopus marinade. I simply adore the fact that I can have it all, all these hot, tasty memories from my childhood for only a few Euros.
But what makes this place so special are its customers. Here I find all kind of people, all momentarily stripped of all social prejudice, drinking from the same glass, eating the same food, singing the same songs (fado, above all), and cheering for the same teams. This is family business.