When I turned 50, I thought it was time for a tea cozy. Fifty is a great age to introduce something like this into your household – the symbol of domestic swagger. Apparently others thought so too, because I got it for my birthday – with a lot of comment as well.
He’s gone to the graveyard-of-things for a long time already. It was fun, but there’s no tea cozy for sale in Portugal to replace it. Portuguese don’t drink tea. Drinking port they copied from the english (or was it the other way around?) but tea they just left behind. Coffee, juice or beer should be it. I’ve been using an airpot for years now. Such a thermos where you press the lid to get the tea out. Super!
Now I think it’s time for another symbol: the (portuguese) apron
You see women my age everywhere here in the outskirts with such a typical plaid apron. They probably get up in the morning and immediately put on that indispensable attribute, which protects your clothes against stains and holes that you can always get when you are busy.
It’s an old-age and an age-old tradition, and it comes from this kind of costume:
They wouldn’t have done the dishes in these, I suspect. Those women are also a lot younger, and a lot more representative than the average apron woman I’ve seen here and now. And the aprons aren’t the same. Certainly before the embroidery machine was invented, it was quite a job to provide such a surface with these lovely embroidered flowers and figures, just to put stains and holes on and in them.
So the apron has clearly evolved from embroidered floral to something practical polyester
I always think: o, come on, I’ll do it in a jiffy, no problem. Then I wear a nice T-shirt, completely spotless and whole. I even sewed up the seam where I unpicked that wretched little label, which is always chafing and itching. And then it happens again. For the umpteenth time. Just a small stain on it. Just burned a small hole in it. Right where you see it best – on your chest or on your stomach.
The last time at the market I got stuck in a traffic jam, exactly in front of an apron seller.
That seemed like a sign from the universe. I have the age for it. I’m a busy type. And I have maybe 4 good T-shirts and 2 good pants without holes and things. We’re not talking hip holes, the ones in cool jeans for example, but the brutal kind.
We’re talking about those embarrassing spots, right in the worst place imaginable. Or a hole, just on your stomach. Boo. If you are at the wrong place with a hole or a spot, you are aware of it all the time. And what are we talking about? It’s maybe 2-3 millimeters. That’s not big! But in your imagination it’s a Huge Hole or a Gigantic Blot that you yourself are a bit timid behind.
Hence the apron
You feel different in such a thing. It’s a little giggly. Kind of cultural appropriation. People react to it, especially (older) women. Or especially and significantly not at all; also a response. I have to wear cool pants underneath, otherwise it feels as if I should grow a moustache as well. While it does give you a feeling of: “Here we go! We’re going to do this!” In that respect it is a magical apron. Put it on, and you will automatically bake and scrub.
Cultural appropriation…I wonder what kind of reaction I would get if I did my shopping at the little store nearby in my apron, then put the bag on my head and walk away…as countless portuguese women have done in the past !
We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.
A big step, especially with two small children.
We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.
You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.
Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.
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