The beautiful island group of the Azores are one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. Composed of nine very isolated volcanic islands, are situated in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km west of continental Portugal, about 880 km northwest of Madeira, about 1,925 km southeast of Newfoundland, and about 6,392 km northeast of Brazil.
All the islands have volcanic origins, although some, such as Santa Maria, have had no recorded activity since the islands were settled. Mount Pico, on the eponymous island, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m, even though the Azores are actually some of the tallest mountains on the planet, measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks, which thrust high above the surface of the Atlantic ocean.
The Azores were uninhabited when Portuguese navigators arrived in the early 15th century, and the settlement process was initiated in 1439 with individuals from various regions of mainland Portugal and from Madeira. The islands were populated mainly by Portuguese descendants immigrants from Algarve, Alentejo, and Minho; however, in an effort to escape the pressures of the Portuguese inquisition, many Portuguese Sephardic Jews, also known as the ‘New Christians’, (those who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Portuguese inquisition), settled on the island in large numbers.
The islands were also settled by Moorish prisoners, African slaves from Guinea, Cape Verde and São Tomé, Flemish, French and Galicians also contributed to the initial settlement. Thus the Azorean population received a significant contribution from people with genetic backgrounds other than Portuguese.
Visitors flock to the Azores archipelago off Portugal’s coast in search of pristine natural beauty and the town of Furnas on Sao Miguel, one of nine major Azorean islands, is known for two things: natural springs and bolo lêvedo.
This local treat is one of the few distinct foods to come out of the Azores and bakers across the island fashion these versatile muffins to resemble bigger, sweeter, chewier cousins of the English muffin.
They are golden brown on either side and dusted with some baking flour, with a delicious lightly sweet taste. Freshly cooked and toasted with butter, there might be no better pair for the morning coffee. And, If you want all, toast with Azorean grass fed butter and serve with freshly made Porto Formoso green tea.
Beloved by residents and visitors alike, they should eat with a warning: as someone attested, the more frequently you enjoy these round muffins, the more likely you are to begin looking like them….
Images from web – Google Research