Amelia De Costa Silva (my aunt Peggy, also known as Emily) was a cook, and sometime waitress at the Cloverleaf Restaurant, The Walker Arcade, Hamilton. The photograph below is taken about early 1940s, with my Aunt Peggy (left) and two other other Portuguese waitresses.

At that time the few jobs available here to Portuguese women were as cooks, nannies, waitresses, maids . Many left to work in the textile factories in Fall River, Massachusetts or as cooks and nannies for wealthy families; as did four of my aunts.  They were not only better paid, but enjoyed the considerations they deserved but did not get in Bermuda. Aunt Peggy worked in upstate New York for a Veterinarian and his family.  Growing up she learned to use natural remedies on farm animals. It wasn’t long before she was helping her employer. For me, she was my mentor when treating my menagerie of pets.

I note in the recipe she uses beef shank instead of the traditional Chouriço Portuguese Sausage, normally called ‘sha·dise’ here. I’m guessing when she cooked for non-Portuguese households she used beef! That could be because the Portuguese only used Bermuda raised pork and it may not have been appealing to her employer.

Emily was a Seventh Day Adventist and they did not eat pork. So perhaps not listing the pork sausage was to affirm her religious beliefs… she would certainly have been criticised by her ‘sisters and brothers’ for saying she cooked with it.

Anyone wanting to try this recipe can substitute the beef shank with local ‘sha·dise’ or imported Chourico.

I remember her saying she had wanted to open a Portuguese Restaurant with the Portuguese waitresses wearing traditional dress. I’m surprised she didn’t since she had a business head despite leaving school at thirteen. During her lifetime she invested in land, building three houses, acting as guarantor for some of the younger family members.

Aunt Peggy kept bees, loved dancing and hats, travelled to the Azores, through Europe.  All her outfits were custom made by Portuguese seamstresses, she was a real dresser… 

Portuguese Kale Soup
Amelia’s recipe in 1970s newspaper article.
Makes six large servings

2 lbs shank bone
1 cup dried white naval beans
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
6 small potatoes, diced
2 carrots diced
6 small heads white turnip, diced
1 stem mustard greens
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight
Boil shank bone and beans in a deep pot in 4 quarts water until beans are almost cooked.
Add vegetables and continue boiling until cooked.
Season to taste.
Serve hot with corn bread.