Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Giant Prawns of Goa and Bombay


Prawns in Bombay

My paternal grandfather, Zose de Freitas ("Tonto Zose"{ (short for Zose who limps)  to his friends), was a fisherman in Chorao, Goa. He was a man of humble means, so seafood featured largely in the family diet as his cantai (net) fetched him a free haul of prawns and small fish daily from the nearby irrigation canals, enough to feed his family - and then some. He had a paddy field and a vegetable patch, coconut palms and a hillside plot with cashew trees. The cashew crop provided him with an ample supply of cashew wine (cajel) and cashew liquor (feni). In those days, few people in his part of the village had luxuries and he did not aspire to be a bhatkar (wealthy landowner). 

My grandmother, Ana Carlota, longed to move from the shack in which she had raised her son and two daughters. Her dream came true when her son, Gabriel (my father), found employment in East Africa and saved enough to buy land from the Vas family in the vicinity of Capella Sacra Familia (the Chapel of the Holy Family). Tonto Zose had died by then but Gabriel made sure his mother lived in comfort for the rest of her life.

Now you can understand why I love seafood. The yearning for it comes to me honestly through my de Freitas genes! During our stay in Chorao, we were invited for lunch by a relative in the sister village of Piedade on the nearby island of Divar. He was very much like my grandfather. Early in the morning, the tide was right, so he went fishing with his cantai. The lunch consisted of his catch. It was a feast fit for a king. There were prawns cooked in every conceivable way. The largest were "butterflied" and fried with a semolina coating, the medium ones were fried with onions, the smaller ones were used for a sweet coconut curry, and the small fish were fried crisp so you could crunch the bones. I drool just recalling that splendid lunch served by our relatives! 


The attached video was shot in Bombay but as far as seafood is concerned, Goa has it all and what you get is fresh, mouth-watering - and inexpensive! Enjoy your virtual meal!






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