Tascas – Porto’s Lively Urban Ecosystems
25 Jan, 2017, By Sílvia
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 Portuguese food and music play in these tascas a major part, differentiating these tascas from the bodegas and pubs found in other countries.
The traditional tasca is usually a small space, neither stylish nor modern, and frequently crowded and “bubbling” with lively football or politics avid discussions. People gather up at the end of the day to have a quick snack with a drink, and some of them end up spending all night there.
The atmosphere in these tascas buries itself in the people that attend these taverns so deeply that those who frequent the tascas tend to create special bonds to the place and its people, making everyone a sort of “drinking buddies”. 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 they’ve started – stretching from football and reality shows to the economic and political status of the country. Sometimes they might look and sound as if on the brink of a fight, but everything ends up well, with everybody embracing and making fun of each other in the end.
I believe these are the best places to taste the 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 everything from spicy chicken gizzard to octopus marinade. I simply adore the fact that with every bite, it brings back all the hot and tasty memories of my childhood, and only for a few Euros.
But what really makes this place so special are its customers. Here I find all kind of people. As one walks in, he’s momentarily stripped of all worries and social prejudice. Drinking from the same bottle, eating the same food, singing the same songs (fado, above all else), and cheering for their favourite teams. This is a family business.