San Jose celebrates Portuguese community with linguica, malasadas and family – California

0
4

CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile device

SAN JOSE — Music streamed through speakers, young women in ball gowns prepared for their promenade, and all around the smells of grilled linguica sausage, fried sweet malasada donuts and crispy risossios shrimp turnovers filled the air.

For the 22nd year running, residents and visitors to San Jose on Saturday got a taste of Portuguese culture and cuisine at the annual Dia de Portugal. It’s a chance for family and friends to connect and check in with their Portuguese roots, said Jerry Bello, a resident of Half Moon Bay whose great-grandfather first immigrated from São Jorge, or St. George, Island in the Azores in 1865.

“He came in on a whaler,” Bello said, adding that his great grandfather eventually moved south and started a farm.

Bello’s family story echoed those of man of the tens of thousands of Portuguese immigrants who first came to California in the late 1860s and 1970s, lured by the Gold Rush, said Joe Machado, a board director for the Portuguese Historical Society, which organizes the annual celebration.

Ricardo Alvernaz and Jorge Leal, both of San Jose, tune their instruments a guitar and mandolin before marching in a parade during the Dia de Portugal festival at History Park in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Presented by the Portuguese Historical Museum the annual festival featured a traditional parade, folk dances, a wine garden and food. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

The first generations of Portuguese immigrants in the Bay Area were primarily dairy farmers, Machado said, settling in East San Jose, near the area where the Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish was founded. The church opened in 1918, just two years before discriminatory laws against southern Europeans put in place strict immigration quotas, slowing the flood of migration to a trickle.

Portugese were exempted from the quotas in 1957, Machado said, when a volcanic eruption in the Azores forced many to flee. Then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy championed a bill to reopen immigration from Portugal, and a fresh wave of Portuguese immigrants made their way west, many settling in the Bay Area and Central California to work in dairies, on farms and in construction, Machado said.

Mary D’Antonio, of San Jose, was part of that second wave of immigration. She was born in the Azores but migrated with her family to Merced when she was six. Her father found work on dairy farms, but they moved frequently throughout California and even headed back to Portugal for a two-year stint, before D’Antonio got married and moved to San Mateo, then later to San Jose.

A parade winds around History Park during the Dia de Portugal festival in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Presented by the Portuguese Historical Museum the annual festival featured a traditional parade, folk dances, a wine garden and food. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

D’Antonio said she makes it a point to attend a number of Portuguese cultural events each year, frequenting the festas, or Portuguese festivals that feature free communal meals, entertainment and a parade. The celebrations, like Dia de Portugal, feature young women, designated as “Queens” by their community leaders or sometimes through a lotto, to serve as ambassadors from their towns at festas in other cities, D’Antonio said.

“It’s a good way to get the younger generation involved,” she said.

Toni McIntire, 11, was in San Jose Saturday to represent her hometown of Gilroy as a junior queen, or “little queen,” she said, noting her duties are equal to the senior, “big queen.” The senior queen selects the color of the queens’ gowns and ornately embroidered capes. McIntire said she got to chose the style of the dress.

The role, she said, is mainly about spreading the Portuguese heritage and traditions everywhere she goes.

“I like that I get to go to other towns and meet new people and make new friends,” she said, adding, “And I like that I get to dress up.”

Malasadas, a Portuguese doughnut, are prepared during the Dia de Portugal festival at History Park in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Presented by the Portuguese Historical Museum the annual festival featured a traditional parade, folk dances, a wine garden and food. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

But, for most, the big draw for the annual Dia de Portugal is the food: spicy linguica, cream-filled and fried Bolsas de Berlim, savory garlic and onion-seasoned fava beans, cool octopus salad, sweet breads and more.

Reese Priddy, of San Jose, has Portuguese ancestors but had never really connected to that part of her heritage, she said. She lives across the street from Kelly Park, where the annual event is held, and thought she’d give it a try this year.

“I just thought it’d be a good opportunity to learn more about that part of my heritage,” she said, “but like any festival I go to, it’s the food that really brings me there.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here