I had gone for a long early morning walk to see the famous Eiffel bridge, and my path back to the hotel for a little sleep brought me past the Mercado do Bolhão. The 19th-century, wrought-iron building housing Porto’s historic market is impressive even in its imperialism. On sale were fresh produce, cheeses, wine, olives, smoked meats, sausages, breads, plants, and a multitude of fish so fresh they were probably swimming in the Atlantic that morning.
I got some coffee and fresh baked bread. The woman who sold me the bread did not speak much English. And yet she seemed to perceive that I had a rough night, that perhaps I had ingested more salt cod than I could handle and that maybe, in this state of total cod drunkenness, I had made a fool of myself. I don’t know for sure whether or not she picked up on all that, but when she generously insisted I take some amazing cheese for my bread, that’s how she made me feel.
The saying goes that I will eventually forget the names of the bridges I saw and what fish were on sale at the Mercado do Bolhão that morning, but I will always remember this woman who made me feel cared for!