Published on October 18th, 2011 |
by Charu Suri
Falling in Love with the Culture of the Azores
While flipping through the channels last night, I stumbled upon one of my favorite shows; “No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.” On this particular episode, I saw that he was traveling to an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic, simply named the Azores.
According to Portuguese folklore and mythology, the islands are the only standing remains of the lost city of Atlantis. It is a cluster of nine separate islands which were formed by volcanic eruptions. The islands are about 1,000 miles from Europe and 2,400 away from North America, isolating them from the rest of civilization.
There are five major cities with a laid back, small town charm. The climate is temperate year round and the rainfall is far higher than most places.
Settlement and Diaspora
When the Portuguese began their conquest, they hit a group of islands after their journeys to the Americas. Initially, it was difficult to get people to venture out to a deserted group of islands, but eventually they set up a colony that turned into one of the most secluded secrets of the modern world.
Since the 17th century, most of the Azorean population has left the islands in order to form communities in larger cities. Countries like Brazil, Canada, and the US have gained the biggest influx of Azorean immigrants. The Taunton Daily Gazette illustrates how the immigrants have taken their culture and set up a livelihood in the cities and towns of New England. According to the article, most Azorean communities around the world consider themselves ambassadors of the region instead of expatriates.
The Azores took many of the same cultural events from Portugal and ran with them. There is a predominantly Catholic population that celebrates the traditional celebrations such as All Soul’s Day in the fall and Carnival at the beginning of Lent.
Azorean cuisine consists mainly of fresh catches from the Atlantic served alongside traditional Portuguese fare. Each of the islands has specific cheeses ranging from cow, sheep, and goat.
When the first visitors to the island landed, they populated the islands with several herds of sheep. They knew that people would soon settle there. It was only a matter of time before people gave up their island life for the big city experience, but those sheep planted centuries ago are still feeding the remaining residents and visitors.