A couple of months ago, Sandra welcomed me to the neighborhood with a bifana. After I had put the last box in my brand-new apartment in 2060, I went to enjoy the sun at their restaurant terrace. Sandra and Santos came from Setúbal to Antwerp in 1988. Whether they miss their country, I ask. “Portugal is a beautiful country. There’s wind, water, sun, but what can we do over there? If we could have earned as much there as here, we would never have left,” Santos says. “All of our children are here,” Sandra adds. Sandra and Santos have two daughters and three sons. All of them born in Belgium. “My mother was already in Belgium when we arrived. She had a restaurant, it’s still here at the end of the street.” “Is it Estrela do Mar?,” I ask her excitedly. “I went to eat there the day before yesterday! An older man and a young girl were serving us.” “Yes, that’s right. That’s my father and my daughter. My mother is cooking. We cook the same Portuguese dishes. Cataplana is my favorite. You should really try this fish dish. Just make sure to order it one day before,” she winks. I look around in their colorful restaurant. In the background the television is playing in Portuguese. The menu is visualized through pictures, covering the whole front window. The walls and the tables are decorated with photos of fishing boats, a sun-drenched market square with a white marble monument, small alleyways underneath a clear sky,… Setúbal and its blue sea are not far away here, in Rio Azul.
Lange Dijkstraat 20
* Series for 2060 My Hood (6/9)