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Portuguese enjoy a real taste of home
IT IS easy to see that Paulo Gafanhoto has settled into Hereford life when you ask him what he dislikes about the city he has lived in for 10 years.
“The traffic here is very bad. Even on Sundays there are big queues,” he says, looking out on the inner ring road from his Portuguese café on Eign Street.
“And then there are the roads. No bypass and potholes every where. I pay £500 a month in tax but where does it go?”
The man from the Alentejo is also angry with the benefits culture that exists in both countries.
“I don’t think that it is right that my tax pays for whole families to live on benefits, like many do here,” he adds.
“But I know the same happens in Portugal and the unemployed receive much more than they do here in the UK. I don’t understand this as there is work here in both places if you really want it.”
This is not a view shared by Lena Godinho who owns Sabores de Portugal – another café on the opposite side of Eign Street.
She said there was plenty of work in 2002 when she arrived in Hereford but believes it is harder to find now and understands why some English people perceive immigration in a negative light.
However, neither Paulo or Lena have suffered discrimination in Hereford and have a small – if growing – number of British customers.
David Fury, who works for Leominster’s H R Smith, was one such diner enjoying the products on offer in Paulo’s Miminhos de Portugal store.
He, like the majority of Brits, came for a “real” cup of coffee, that he said contained far more flavour than those offered by some of the larger multinational cafés.
Paulo, half joking, dared David to try his espresso but it did not prove too strong in caffeine.
“I have tried Turkish coffees before but this one is really good,” he said. “I had driven past here and it stood out as I always like to visit different places. This has definitely been worth it.”
Lena, meanwhile, has one English visitor who passes by every day for her coffee fix.
“English coffee is so weak, like water,” said Lena. “You people drink pints of the stuff but it should be stronger and have real flavour.”
Custard tarts – or to give them their real name “pasteis de nata” – are the other big hits with the English while salted cod is one of the many products on sale in both stores that give the Portuguese clients a reminder of home.
The number of Portuguese living in the county is unknown.
Paulo believes there are about 600 of his compatriots in the city while the last census showed that the number of lusophones – Portuguese speakers – in the Moorfields, Whitecross and Holmer districts is about five per cent.
Lena said that the Portuguese community, as opposed to the Polish, has always been spread out around the city.
The disjointed nature is not helped by the variety of jobs performed. While many work at Cargill, others are found driving taxis, behind the tills at Sainsbury’s or in one of Rotherwas’s many factories.
Huge delays processing visa applications at the UK Border Agency has also seen many Brazilians seek work in other European countries, thus further cutting the number of Portuguese speakers.
But for those who remain here, the two cafés offer the community a meeting point where they can watch Benfica and Porto play football, drink strong coffee and offer a foreign perspective on the endless Hereford bypass debate.
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