With dusk creeping a little nearer every day and August coming to an end, we gave a last dinner party before closing up the house and heading back to Madrid. We invited six friends, who met each other for the first time.

Sofia and Duarte, architects in Maputo, on holiday around Europe.
Jeanne, a “musicienne” from Paris, here on holiday.
Patricia, an Argentine yoga and meditation teacher recently moved to Portugal.
Nuno, a land owner in the Alentejo, and an inveterate bachelor.
Miguel, a Portuguese journalist just back from the US who came without his wife.
Us, Celeste and Bob.

With this highly diverse group, the conversation was eclectic:

M- America is seething with change. It’s the only place I have seen where people walk around with assault rifles outside a war zone. The gun situation is a cancer in America’s society. But it is a country with guts. The deep national debate over health care is amazing, both for the health care mess and for the determination to make it work better.
B- It is an exciting time in America. I think Obama will get health care reform, but the vested interests are strong and they are making it as costly as possible for him.
S- And with Fox News and other radical Republicans constantly breathing down Obama’s neck, criticizing, spinning, doing everything to make Obama have a political failure, it takes real steel to prevail.
D- But Obama is doing so much right. Africa is waking up to America again. My God! Bush was so incompetent. It is so important to the rest of the world to have a good American President. His color matters for some things, but when it comes to his intellect he is universal.
J- You are so turned to America and I am so involved with Portugal! Today I visited the Palácio da Fronteira. Il est d’une telle beauté, so beautiful. I was completely taken by its fabulous collection of azulejos.

C- There’ s a book in French, “La Frontière”, with the story of “le bestière”, those bizarre animals from the XVIII century painted on the azulejos.

P- I heard Maria João Pires play Beethoven’s Fourth Piano concert there. I remember being completely taken by the atmosphere in the palace, and this fragile woman at the piano, entranced and precise.
J- I played Schumann’s Piano Quintet with Maria João, inoubliable!, an unforgettable experience for me.
D- That’s what we miss most living in Mozambique, the culture, museums, concerts. For instance, to see Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in a scenario like the Regaleira Palace, in Sintra. It worked so well in the garden at night, the island was real amidst the thick foliage.
C- Prospero doing his magic in the mysterious garden, Miranda appearing on the tower, I can’t think of a better background for that play.

D- Living in Maputo is beautiful, but it doesn’t have the intellectual depth of Europe. Will we ever get there?
C- Don’t knock Lourenço Marques. I am who I am today thanks to growing up there. Granted, I am not the same person I was then, even though I thought then was forever.

J- This is a muqueca de camarão we are eating, isn’t it? I remember having it in Salvador de Bahia.

P- Right now I am in Brazilian heaven. Who was the cook?
C- I did it. Is it too spicy?
B- Actually Celeste climbed the tree for the coconut, cracked it open, drank the water, then straddled the coconut stool and rhythmically shredded the flesh. So sexy.
C- I wish I did….

N- (Whispering) Tell me about Jeanne, she is so interesting, is she married?
C- (Whispering) She was married, but going on tournees all the time took its toll, and they separated. I don’t know if she has anyone now. Why don’t you ask her?
J- Dites nous Nuno, tell us what it’s like living in the Alentejo.
N- Mainly, I breed Lusitanian horses, which are bought by Arabs from the Gulf. But my current passion is restoring a fifth century convent I bought with the economic crisis, and I am opening a school for poor, rural children. The school will teach music appreciation, as well as literature, science, mathematics and languages. It would be wonderful if you could do a concert for the kids while you are here.
S- It does help to have the means to do all one wants. It is a different story when you are limited economically like us.
P- That’s not true. Look, I am 54 and own nothing. I left an easy, familiar life in Argentina and I am starting again in another country. I emigrated only with my expertise -- yoga and meditation classes for executives. It helps increase productivity and alertness. I am signing a contract with the telephone company in September to limber up the suits.
J- How about your family in Argentina?
P- The glue that holds a marriage together, sometimes it’s messy and embarrassing, so I cut entirely with the past. I guess you could put my inner age at 18!
C- Here’s to second chances!
S- To leave one’s country with only a dream, and begin again elsewhere at 54, yes, very daring.
M- We all know that success, power, fame, and especially happiness come with expiration dates.
B- Not necessarily. You have to know when to stop and, like Patricia, re-invent yourself.
D- As they say, think globally, live globally.
C- Patricia, why Portugal, why did you leave Argentina to come here?
P- It is an easy country to settle in, and things are going well for me. I may not be here forever. Let’s see what the future holds.
D- I cannot conceive of living outside Maputo, with all its problems, it is the place that makes the most sense for me.
S- Me too.
C- Bob and I like to move and start again. It is a challenge to learn a different language, make a new home, make new friends, plunge deep into a new culture. It keeps us on our toes. We both have portable professions. As long as I have my easel and books and the dog is happy, that’s where home is.
J- Paris is where I always return to, my center of gravity. But I travel constantly for concerts. Ideally I spend half the year in Paris and half on the road.
M- My wife would love to leave Portugal and go live elsewhere, but my work is here with the paper, I have the job I always wanted. I suppose I could take a year off to write. But not yet, maybe in some years.
N- I am perfectly happy in the Alentejo, I am one of those people who don’t travel well. I am like a tree, my roots go deep. When I am in another country I miss my house and my horses, the special smell of the air in the fields, Guida’s delicious cooking. I only travel for music, Prague’s musical festival, operas at La Scala, for me music is the main reason to travel.
P- When are you having a show, Celeste?
C- I am starting a new art project when I return to Madrid. I will be totally involved with it, won’t have much time for blogging or anything else.
B- She has been blogging all summer.
J- C’ est vraie? But you must give me the link.
N- When do you leave for Spain? Would you like to spend the weekend at my place in northern Alentejo? I think you will enjoy the horses, do you like horseback riding?
B- The weekend would be great, on our way back to Madrid.
M- Perfect, I will count on you for lunch on Saturday. It is near Avis, about an hour and a half from here, I’ll email the map with directions.
B- I’ve always wanted to explore that area more.
C- We have our dog with us, is he also invited?
N- Of course. Jeanne would you like to come with Bob and Celeste? It will be another Portuguese experience for you. And of course Patricia, Miguel, Sofia, Duarte, you are also invited.
S- We leave tomorrow for France, but we would love to come another time we are in Portugal. I am crazy about horses too.
P- I am giving a yoga retreat this weekend, too bad.
M- My wife arrives Saturday, maybe another time?
N- Jeanne? I hope you can come.
J- Avec plaisir, but I don’t ride horses.
N- Madame, I will take you in a calèche to see my vineyards. Would you like that?
J- Bien sur!
P- Celeste, tell us about this art project, please.
C- It is too soon to speak about it. I will tell you more when it is underway.
M- Do give me the recipe for the muqueca, I want to cook it for my wife, she loves everything spicy and exotic.
C- I will post it on the blog.

Muqueca de Camarão (for 8 people)

3 tablespoons Dendê oil (red palm oil, a staple in Brazilian cuisine)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 ½ cups coconut milk (bottled or canned)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 large tomatoes peeled seeded and chopped
Salt and fresh red cayenne pepper
2 lbs of peeled shrimp
Bunch of coriander, chopped

Heat the dendê oil, and softly cook the onion and garlic until translucid. Add the salt, lime juice, tomatoes and cayenne. When barely cooked, add the coconut milk. Simmer. After the sauce thickens, add the shrimp for about 3 minutes. Switch off. Let it sit for a while, or better still, cook the muqueca the day before. Then, just before serving, heat it up and add a good amount of chopped coriander. Serve with Basmati rice.


  1. How lovely. I feel that I was there eating and conversing with you. All of your posts make me long to return to Europe. Sigh.

    Even though it will take time away from your blogging, I hope you will share the nature your art project with us when you are ready to talk about it.

  2. Once again you proffer such living pictures of other worlds as we sit in our own, envious of the beauty surrounding you! Would've loved hearing Jeanne create music - sounds like such a wondrous gathering of sweet, creative souls. As for the USA yes it's an eclectic land actually more like 50 small countries rather than states. Each so different - and not all violence-ridden. Though it's disarming seeing people carry rifles for no discernible reason, I believe it's truly a minority of citizens who are on the fringe. Decency will prevail, I have an optimistic faith in that, having lived though the turbulence of the 60s and radical change. The only question is: will the next generation pick up the torch? O btw, I think Duarte meant to say "Think global, act local" yes? Forgive the arrogance but it's a motto I try hard to live by, since we know we can't change everything and everyone why not change our communities a bit for the better. Think global act local. Thanks for sharing this lovely conversation, so infused with that passion of yours I so admire! May the Goddess protect you.

  3. When you write posts like this one, I feel as if I'm at the dinner table with you. There are so many things I would have like to have said, and I would have loved that dish. It's so much the way we cook, minus the red oil palm (not sure we can get that here). Great perspective on American politics. We are a mess. Yes, guns. We are at war with ourselves. The Civil War never really ended.

  4. Sounds like a beautiful evening, with interesting conversation, good food and company.

  5. Dear Celeste,

    As usual, your table conversation posts are so rich with diversity of subject and as seems usual, leads off with politics. Politics and religion - such universal glues humans use to define themselves.

    I'm always interested in non-U. S. American reactions to Obama and the above was an interesting addition to my impressions. As a "conservative" individual who tries to follow the moral directions of my Faith, I often find myself out of step with just about everyone else around me. It is a curious thing to have grown up in the 60's when the term "counter-culture" was coined and find myself now IN my 60's feeling very much a part of a new sort of counter-culture.

    While many now seem to follow Obama as some sort of savior of our nation, I find myself believing that neither the right nor the left has got it right. Bob does make a very good point though when he says that " . . .vested interests are strong and they are making it as costly as possible for him."

    Of course, vested interested are everywhere and when vested interest is threatened, it strikes back hard and fast. Fortunately, Americans are proving once again that they are not easily intimidated and use of freedom of speech is keeping us a healthy country of diverse opinions, not a country being torn down by one side while the other uses the same tactics.

    Food, art, other peoples lives - what a wonderful table you had this night and YOU the great conductor moving it all along. I hope you had lunch later with your friends and will give us a peek into that conversation as well.

  6. There is no greater pleasure than good food with good friends speaking of things that are important or beautiful.

    You make a lovely soup, Celeste.

    I hope your art project doesn't make you give up blogging. You could blog by showing us your art, perhaps.

  7. Celeste, I do not know how you do it. You are absolutely the most interesting person I have ever came across in blogging. You are so talented. If I had just a quarter of that talent . I would love to meet you but in a way I feel I have already through the blogging. You are the best. Our family is facing yet another crisis but we will see it through. I talked a little about it to my fellow bloggers and I already feel encouraged.

  8. Celeste, what a perfect evening! Your life is magical. You write so well that we are swept away. Like your other readers, I hope you will still find time to post when you get back to work on your next art project.

    Since I love language so much, I have to ask, what was the common language at dinner? I'm looking forward to reading about your visit to Nuno's place in Alentejo.

    Thank you for adding some spice to my lovely Thursday morning here in the desert!

  9. What an amazing recipe! I must try it!

    Now, I want to see pictures of these horses you are going to visit!

  10. This is like a brilliant one act play. I love following how the conversation flows from one subject to the next. I had a strange reaction though to your mention of portable professions and packing up and traveling where you wish. It made me cry. I realized I am a bird with an injured wing, born to explore and create and yet stuck in this corner for reasons I am trying to figure out. Everything is pointing to me making a change. Maybe, like Madonna with only $34 in her pocket, I will take the plunge...

    I love reading your posts!

  11. Wow! What a fun way of ending summer!
    Certainly hope you will comment on the horses at Nuno's farm, and post some pictures!
    The dinner certainly must have been delicious!
    And the conversation obviously simulating and interesting.
    Did everyone speak French or English or Portuguese?
    LOVE your photos of the Palico de Fronteira, it is such a magnificent place, both the house and the gardens!
    Loved your photos of the Regaleira, of the stage, of the food, of your table, loved it all, and am mystified by the photo of the wood contraption at the end!
    Please don't stop blogging, it is the most interesting and fun divertissement!!!!
    Thank you again!

  12. Passei por cá.Boa partida, ou bom regresso,afinal tentamos sempre o equilíbrio entre estas duas pontas do fio...
    um beijinho

  13. I enjoyed the meal and conversations! The receipt looks very good! Yum-O as an American would say.

    I have deleted my blog as I want to start over after a vacation.

  14. Fabulous post! Reading it felt like being with you and your friends. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful evening. I admire Patricia for her guts to move on. Changing one's life involves a lot of risks but with an inner age of 18 she's probably just the right age to succeed. (; Your friends are a pretty diverse bunch of characters. I truly enjoyed the conversation and your pictures that went perfectly along with the post.

  15. So magic of you two and your friends. I'm not only charmed, but determined to come to Spain next time we are rich enough to come to Europe. You also make me see the need to get beyond the tools to the words I want to write.

  16. Did you really climb the coconut tree? ♥ Just kidding! What a lovely meal your prepared! What a gorgeous table you set!

    I love and applaud what Annie above wrote. I am with her totally on this. I know it is a complicated issue and very difficult to understand, especially for those who do not live here and who do not see the monstrous debt that is being created for my grandchildren and their children. But it is quite frightening.

  17. Celeste, I´m having my "mate" along with reading your post (with dictionary not to miss anything). What else can I say?? It has been a nice moment being invited to your dinner... and the table setting is beautiful.
    Muchos cariños
    María Cecilia

  18. always you tempt and tantalize. and always it is a lovely treat to visit .... your wonderful blog tells of travel, adventure, mystery, succulent food, stimulating friends and conversation.

  19. Strictly speaking, there are only one sort of books which contributed to the well-being of mankind: cooking books.
    Listening to your conversation, one might like to add, that a spice, called 'together-nes of those who eat', is the guarantee of happyness in the first place, never ever to be found in such books, but surely around such beautiful tables, as the one you call your own. Chapeau for this entry of yours!

  20. Celeste, I hope you will continue to find time to blog!

    The Muqueca looks delicious; is there a suitable substitution for the red palm oil?

  21. a wonderful evening with good friends delicious food fine wine and provocative dialogue! my place next time!

  22. I miss dinner parties like the one you described. I lived in San Francisco for almost 10 years and we had many such parties with lively conversation. Here, unfortunately, we do not know people who would be interested in talking like this. My neighborhood is completely extreme Republican Conservatives and Christian evangelists. If I talk about trips, they think I am showing off. To talk about politics is impossible. The people here “know” and are not willing to talk to persons with a different point of view. What you think is freedom of speech in the USA about health care is not free speech. The pharmaceutical companies are spending $150 billion in PR to stop Obama’s health care. I have heard the exact same questions from the supposedly “local” people in the various town meetings. They do not like Obama and want him to fail. I hope they will not win in this, but I am not so sure – they are very dangerous and many are extremely ignorant.

  23. You made me feel like I was right there with all of you. Eclectic conversation, to be sure, and very interesting.

    Your muqueca de camarão looks and sounds just wonderful. I'd love to try making it myself, but I'm not sure I could find all the ingredients here. I'll bet I could get them on line, though. I'll have to look into that.

    Thanks so much for including me in your lovely dinner party. And very best wishes in your newest art project.

  24. Celeste , when will you be back or will you be back to the same place. I hope babylon will get my email. She has her settings so no one can get in. I told her that you could not get in also. Thank you for your positive thoughts and good luck on where ever you are going.

  25. I felt for awhile that I was a part of your dinner party. How lovely the food and conversation was. I can't wait to try your recipe, it sounds delicious.

    I totally agree with Vagabonde here. It is a sad situation in our country when they want their President to fail. I also hope they will not win that failure. Our country deserves to finally move forward.

    Have a wonderful journey home. Best of luck starting the new project. I do hope you will still leave us lovely stories from time to time.

  26. Celeste,
    A dinner party extraordinaire! One would never hear such interesting conversations here. I was entranced. How I would love to be a guest at one of your dinner parties!

  27. Aha, how delightful. I was there, and even had the faces to go with the conversation. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  28. Please, please, could we come, the Scraper and I?
    Or perhaps you and Bob would like to visit us? We have only professors, historians, musicians and artists on offer, all of them from these islands. I am the only foreigner here, apart from some Americans.

  29. Hi Celeste

    thank you for this lively dinner party conversation and the wonderful recipe...

    I look forward to further chats with you

    Happy days

  30. Thank you for allowing us to join in with your dinner guests and for the recipe, sounds wonderful. I wish we were going to your part of Europe but I am excited about going to Paris as we have never been before.It will be an interesting experience and I hope the knee puts up with all the walking I hope to do.Not much money to spend but who cares!

  31. how generous and inspiring your blog, your way of being and seeing and writing, is. another gift - thank you.

  32. Thank you Celeste for sharing such a wonderful evening. A long time ago when I was married to a man who wanted to save the world through education we would always have interesting and challenging friends over often with no preparation. Sometimes it would be who ever drove him home from the bar, or students that needed to be fed. Or sometimes actually a planned event. But that was a long time ago and he couldn't save the world and drank himself to death.

  33. Thank you for inviting us to your dinner party! The guests, food, table, and conversation was lovely. I feel so "woman of the world" right now! I also totally agee with all the comments on the US and our president. We are in a cultural war here in America.

  34. Here is my pitiful little comment: The shrimp dish sounds divine, and I will try making it.

    I'm afraid I might be a silent guest at this lively table, and it's because I would only be eating, oh and listening with interest.

  35. I love this kind of eclectic diners !!! They are so rich !! I would have loved to share it with you

  36. Eavesdropping and wishing I could join you. And planning more trips. . . next time to Spain and to Portugal.

  37. And now that we've talked, I have to further explore this and see if I can gain insight into your nomad-ism.

  38. You write quite the narative and reminds me of conversations my friends and I had in the bay area before I left and meals we would share with many new acquaintances every now and then.

    For a "moral" country it's amazing those who continue to seek power, prefer to not have any of those morals in order to help those, although talked about like they are a minority here, are not. I'm thinking there are more working poor than ever before now a days. ; (

    I really appreciate this post and miss my old friends a bunch..........

  39. Yikes, sorry about the "narrative" spelling. I went to fix and the post flew away ; )

  40. Oh, this was divine! It was just like listening in and being nosey with permission.

    ps I'm glad he was able to invite her to his place (adroitly managed by inviting everyone else)!

  41. beautiful site!
    your photographs and travels
    are just exquisite!


  42. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall of your dinning room during the party! Your photos of my beloved Palacio da Fronteira left me wanting to fly back to Portugal and my dear Lisboa right this minute and visit it all over again.
    And the tiles, those binding tiles...anchoring me even firmer to the land I love :)

    You have a wonderful place!



  43. Dear Celeste, you are my inspiration. I agree with Lucy said that you're an interesting person. How do you do that all with you is high class like writing, painting, friends, table setting and lifestyle. Can you give me some tips what to start with to lead a life like you, maybe in your post. Always thinking of you and talk about you and Lucy to my husband :) You are going away to Madrid for Winter house? Nice, keep connected. (((hugs)))

  44. lovely reading your really has been an inspiration!

  45. What a great post Celeste, both your writing and your table - eclctic :-) You really did some world travelling around your table, and I had to smile several times during the converstaion. Like when you mentioned Schubert - I am listening to Schubert's Piano Sonata #1 in F Sharp Minor Op 1 while writing this :-)

    Please tell me more about La Frontiére book. Who is the writer?

    Only four days till I am leaving for Spain, for the first time in my life. Nowhere near you though.....

  46. I want to thank everyone for such beautiful and intelligent comments!
    To answer a few questions:
    The conversation at dinner was in French and Portuguese. Jeanne does not speak Portuguese, and Sofia and Duarte's French is not so good. So we went back and forth in both languages.
    Dende oil can be replaced with olive oil.
    Anyone interested in finding out more about "Palacio da Fronteira" can google it and find lots of information and images.
    The French book on the story of the tiles at the palce is "La Frontiere", by Pascal Quignard.

  47. Celeste,

    Como não sei o seu email, vai aqui a resposta ao seu bonito comentário.

    A alegria de ter encontrado o seu blog é toda minha. E pode escrever em Português sempre que queira, eu só não o fiz aqui porque também escreve em Inglês, mas é sempre com carinho que leio na minha língua natal.
    Li os seus “posts” de uma ponta a outra, deliciada com a sua prosa e visão, e voltarei para os saborear novamente. A forma como capta com a lente e traduz em pintura toca-me bastante pois também eu vejo arte nas imagens que nos rodeiam, muito embora não tenha este seu talento para traduzir as mesmas em maravilhosas pinturas como as suas.
    O que mais me fascina neste mundo “blogosférico” é precisamente momentos como este-o encontro de pessoas fascinantes pela sua beleza de espírito. As amizades que aqui tenho feito são a parte mais rica do que me rodeia. Sou mais-por elas.

    Um abraço transatlântico e desculpe os copiosos comentários mas o seu blog tocou-me tanto pelo seu conteúdo e reencontro com o meu Portugal, que não consegui resistir.

    Isabel Augusto

  48. You host the best dinner parties! Thank you so much for allowing us into your life. I'm now intrigued by your art project! I hope you will reveal it on your blog sometime soon! Hope you are having a lovely weekend :)

  49. I do hope you are enjoying your travels. No cooking would be great.

  50. What an interesting and clever post! Great work, Celeste!

  51. Again, your blog fascinates me. I learn so much and your life is quite exciting. I hope that you will not totally leave your blogging family when you start your next project. Budget just a bit of time to keep us with you.
    I enjoyed reading the conversation of such a diverse group of people. And I also am very interested in how the rest of the world perceives the US and our new president. Take care and I'll be back.

  52. Ah Celeste how sad to say goodbye to summer. Madrid awaits you along with an art show. I cannot wait to hear all about it. Your artwork is gorgeous! Have a lvoely week ahead.

  53. Hi Celeste:)


    What a wonderful and magical time you had with your friends. It is a great idea to bring people who have never met before and that too from diverse fields.

    You house looks fantastic and the table arrangements looks gorgeous. I also noticed an Indian statue. Did you pick it up when you visited Kerala?

    The conversation is very interesting. I was thinking about Patricia who has the courage to start a new life at the age of 54 in a new country. Very amazing person! I wouldn’t do such a daring thing.

    The recipe is excellent but I must tell you honestly that I am a good eater than a cook. No one at home will dare taste the food I cook:)

    My eldest son Francis was in Madrid for 5 months on account of his work. But his work schedule was so tight that he couldn’t move around and see the place. Besides, he said that people there speak mostly Spanish and don’t converse in English. He had a tough time to get things done there in the beginning. He is likely to go there again after a few months for another assignment. He is a software engineer.

    The photos are excellent and embellished your wonderful post.

    Wish you all the best and hope to hear from you at the earliest.

  54. Hi Celeste, I'm back from holidays, thanks for your lovely visits while I was away. This post was really interesting to read, I felt like I was seated at your table. I'll attempt to make that dish you have provided the recipe for, though not sure if I can manage climbing a coconut tree and looking sexy at the same time, how sweet of Bob to describe you like that, too. I also hope you can continue to blog and share your wonderful outlook and life experiences with us.

  55. Every time I come to your blog, I get hungry just reading the comments. May I come to your next dinner? Please? I don't cook, but I love to eat, and I always clean up the kitchen afterward!

  56. Hi Celeste:)

    You are very kind and generous. I will certainly keep your kind offer in mind and tell my son Francis Xavier about it when he next comes to Madrid. My son is named after the famous saint from Spain. The Saint is taking good care of my son.

    God bless you and your family,

  57. Hi Celeste. I know you're on the move and may not have time, but there's an award for you on my blog with explanation. Sorry if it's not your kind of thing.

    I need to come back here and give due time and attention to this fascinating post and comments.

  58. Celeste - this is beautiful, fun and smart - the trifecta of an excellent blog. Oh, yes, I will return to see where you are, what pictures you've taken and what everyone's talking about. This was SO much fun (I'm out of words having used them all day) and will treat myself to some (print) reading!
    A toute a l'heure!

  59. Celeste, what an eclectic group! I was a little surprised at the discussion of American politics. My personal views were not echoed by any of your guests. I suppose that I am more disenchanted, skeptical and jaded than the norm. I was, however, pleased to see my sobriquet enter the conversations.

  60. Dear Celeste - another delightful post, good for the soul. I felt I was right there with you, eavesdropping. Muchas gracias.

    Save journey home and I hope you don't disappear from the blogosphere for long. Always interesting to know your thoughts, feelings and doings.

  61. I don't know what to say. Everything is so breathtaking. I love the horses,in fact they are my passion. One day I still hope to have one. The meals make me so hungry and the views of everything else, just makes me forget where I am. Thanks so much for sharing.


  62. Thank you so much for posting your recipe for Muqueca de Camarão. I hope that I can find some red palm oil in London; I've certainly never seen it in 98% white Anglo Saxon West Berkshire!

    This meal, this conversation, these people just fills me with a craving for more heterogenous sights and people. (I've read these posts backwards, so it is rather fun to know about this marvellous weekend -- and the budding romance -- at the start.)

    I always like it when you include what other people are saying about President Obama and the U.S.