The " Sopas do Espirito Santo " is a traditional dish served during the Holy Ghost Festival (Festas Do Espírito Santo).
As Fabio is Portuguese, exactly from Azores, I've been experiencing different dishes and the one that surprises me the most was this one.
Very simple but delicious, also this Festival is a way for people to reunite all together and enjoy some food and company, all of this for free.
Yes you read it, the meal is for free that's because is a tradition began in the early 1300’s with Queen St. Isabel of Portugal which made a promise to the Holy Ghost because of a conflict between her husband and son, in that way she then promised to collect food for the poor.
This devotion to the Holy Ghost spread through regions of Portugal, especially in the Azores islands and from there, these traditional celebrations also reach to other part of the world where the Azorean immigrants are, like the United States, Canada and Brazil.
Now a days this tradition is still alive, and the way it began with Queen St. Isabel of Portugal and her promise, still happens with the same concept. The person who promises something to the Holy Ghost, as health for the family for example, will be the person who will provide and organize the food for everyone. This person is called Emperor. His task will be getting people together that will help the party take place. This will be from, donations as meat, bread, flour, drinks, contributions that will help to buy what is missing. People will give their own time to help in serving, cooking, cleaning, all sorts of help are welcome.
The event takes place in some specific buildings in the island that were build around these feasts. They are called "copeiras". These celebrations have their own rituals, thanking to the Holy Ghost for all help that "he" provided. These events take place normally from June to the end of August.
When the feast starts, all people are invited to eat and celebrate this tradition. The copeira is full of life, smell of the hot steel pots under the fire where the meat is being cooked and the people serving and chatting with the smile in their faces. The copeira takes about 50 people, roughly at each time. People eat by turns as the space is limited. By the end of each group eating, the Emperor shouts "hurray to the Holy Ghost" and people in return repeat "hurray"; "hurray to the cooks", "hurray"; "hurray to the Emperor", "hurray". This is to thank everyone involved around the feasts.
These soups are given for free to anybody that wants to go and eat but also the Emperor thinks about people that might not have the opportunity to go there as the elderly, in this case they would deliver at home to make sure anyone is left outside.
Isn't that fantastic?
Eating this soup in summer time is crazy for me, but it has a refreshing taste due to the mint inside of it. The soup is a combinations of slow cooked beef on is own broth, sea salt, onion, garlic, bay leaf and bread left soak inside the broth.
The slow cooked beef in normally served aside, thing that was just great form me as vegetarian. I was really curios to try the soup the perfume was really good.
When it come to travel is difficult for me being vegetarian because i would like to enjoy as well the typical cuisine of the place but at the same time i don't want to disagree with my ethic. So for this plate i decided, since the meat was aside to give a try and for any omnivores out there you would enjoy.
After eating the soup, normally they also give to everyone a slice of bread called "Pão da mesa" or "Rosca".
And after eating so well, since we were on an island we went to the beach to relax a bit.