One of the unexpected delights of our move to this house has been getting to know our neighbors – they live over the field to the right of the house – they are the parents of our landlord and the lady of the house supplies our bread – and our pizza dough, and tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, apples, lettuce, onions, garlic, mushrooms and anything else we have use for.

To say they are farmers is to underrate their innate ability to work with the land and belittles the considerable skills and talents they possess throughout the whole family.

Strictly speaking, yes I am an expatriate, but I cringe when I am referred to as an “expat” — the colloquial shortened form of the word.  I am not quite sure why this is.  It could be that I do not like to be associated with some of the negative connotations that have come to be associated with several “ex-pat” communities; or if I know consider myself to be a proper European who can live anywhere in Europe — or something else entirely.

Yes, I was born in the UK, raised in the UK, and still have a UK passport.  My coloring and skin type is most definitely English, as is my language.  However, now I have moved here and have little or no intentions of returning to the UK to live I think I am evolving into something else — something more than an expat!

Food in rural Alentejo revolves around these six ingredients: wine, olives, bread, cheese, porco preto and eggs. Almost every household will dine on a combination of these for at least one meal a day if not both.  Wine drives the Alentejo economy and the stomachs of its workers, from simple house wines to celebrated international award winners.  This is my Christmas present to myself — a presentation box of five reds from the renowned Cortes De Cima.

On Thursday, Janna and I shared a lovely lunch at the Bryant Park Grill.  I, of course, filled up on bread and made no apologies.  The parsnip soup starter was delicious.  The Vegan Organic entree was truly awful.  If you’re going to offer a Vegan choice on the menu, you need to provide massive chunks of lots and lots of hearty root vegetables, not a chiffonade of greens with a sprinkling of quinoa and a few, limp, tiny pieces of eggplant; and you certainly don’t put the main dish star — the portobello mushroom — in a side cup chopped up like a disrespected, diced, carrot!