Carina Simões: “I’m a person with so many dreams and goals that I’m constantly working hard to achieve them”
Being a portuguese, Carina Simões naturally loves portuguese food, probably one of the best in the world. Living in London gives her the possibility to explore one of her passions, theatre, specially in a country that gives so much importance to the arts. She has prepared a delicious Cod à la Brás, a typical portuguese dish and has shared with us her unique vision of London and her dreams and experiences.
1 – How old were you when you moved to London? What was the main reason to move?
I moved to London for the first time when I was 22, but I actually went back to Lisbon a few months later to finish my Bachelor’s degree. After I did it I came back to London. Since I was a little child I had this dream to move to London so it was something I always knew I had to do.
2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from the United Kingdom?
Not that much, I think, I might be still very much Portuguese. But I do love the fact that you can dress whatever you want to, I could go to the supermarket wearing my pyjamas and no one would even care.
3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you?
Mainly with food, I suppose. I think Portuguese food may be the best in the world. So I always try to bring my friends to Portuguese restaurants.
4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?
Starting from zero and not knowing anyone. But at the same time it’s so exciting to be able to start again and to learn about the culture of the country.
5 – Name the most positive aspects of London.
The cultural aspect. London has so much to offer! I love going to the theatre and in London I was able to see the greatest actors of today on stage; you have so much more gigs to go to and loads of free museums. The public transports are great as well. You don’t need to be dependent of a car, you don’t even need one. Public transports are fast and most of them are 24h.
6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?
After meeting people from all over the world in such a big city like London you realise that people are not always going to be around. You have to care about what really matters for you and keep close the people you want in your life.
7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?
From Portugal I really miss the food and having good quality products in the supermarket.
I guess one of the main difference between the two countries it’s the job opportunities, you have a better range of jobs in the UK and better salaries as well.
8 – Is there a favourite english dish you prefer?
I’m not a big fan of English food (I do like scones though!), but luckily there is always a Portuguese or Italian restaurant around.
9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about England?
That English people are cold, they are actually the nicest.
10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved?
My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get a job quickly and that I would run out of the little money I had with me.
11 – From the legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?
For someone who wants to work in the UK I think getting the National Insurance Number and an English bank account as soon as possible is the most important. Even though it takes a bit of time it’s a really easy process.
12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Portugal and the United Kingdom?
There’s more jobs opportunities in England, employees have more benefits and better salaries.
13 – What is your favourite city spot in London?
Stoke Newington Church Street.
14 – Where do you feel “at home” in London? Is there a specific place?
Yes, my house. I managed to get this really nice place with my boyfriend and our cat and we made it our home.
15 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in London?
It’s called a Portuguese Love Affair. It’s more like a café but it’s the nicest place, small and cosy with delicious Portuguese food and wine.
16 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?
I’ve realised it’s really important to be true to yourself and always follow your instincts. Also, I’m a person with so many dreams and goals and I’m constantly working hard to achieve them.
London, United Kingdom
600 g dry salted cod fish (previously soaked)
1 kg potatoes
1 – 2 onions
2 garlic cloves
2 dl olive oil
Greated salsa to taste
Peper to taste
Black olives – optional
Gently rinse the salt cod under cold water to remove any surface salt. Soak overnight in cold water (12 to 18 hours) in the fridge, changing the water twice. Shred the fish into bite-sized strips.
Peel and cut thinly the potatoes. Fried them and place them on absorbent paper to eliminate the oil.
Mince the garlic; slice the onion into half-moon shapes. Fry both ingredients lightly on the olive oil. Add the codfish and the potatoes. Season the preparation with salt and pepper.
Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper and add them to the fish and potatoes. Stir occasionally until the eggs are softly set. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with parsley, add the black olives and serve.