Curiosity and fascination with law meant that for a while she wanted to be a judge. However, two years of university were enough to realise that wasn’t where she wanted to be. Three years left to finish seemed too long, and was the exact time to start again. She chose Business Communication at the Higher Institute of Social Communication, and according to Maria it was the best decision of her life.
“It was the best decision of my life, and my mum, seeing me so miserable studying law, was right behind it”.
Time flies when you like what you do, and she immediately started working as project manager for advertising and marketing agencies. The strong, creative component awakened her passion for photography, which she had learned at a very young age with her maternal grandfather, learning manual photography. Transition to digital wasn’t easy, but in her work she found opportunity to get used to the change.
She also learned a love of listening to and telling stories from the same grandfather. The two of them spent much time chatting together, and when he moved back home to Caldas da Rainha, and she stayed in Nazaré, they wrote to each other. Naturally talkative, her imagination knew no limits with her grandfather.
“My grandfather on my mother’s side was very present in my life, we had a great relationship, and very early on he learned how to enthral me with books and wonderful stories.”
Our roots are very influential in what we become, which is very clear in Maria’s case. Another of her passions, gastronomy, also stems from her childhood.
“My childhood and teenage years were very much spent at the table. When I didn’t go to the after-school study centre, I was either sitting in the kitchen doing homework while mum was cooking, or I was next to her, watching what she was doing. My family loved sitting around the table and everything this signified.”
What they ate and cooked was important. Food, as well as being pleasurable, was also a good excuse for everyone to be together.
“I often tell the story that when my brother and I were at university in Lisbon, dad would call during the week to ask if we’d go for lunch with him the following weekend. Mum would call to ask what we wanted to eat. So they both, in their own way, used food as an excuse to tell us that they wanted us there.”
‘Nossa Mesa’, her gastronomy blog, has just emerged naturally from this reality – that of wanting to know if other homes and families also spent time around the table in this way. Her curiosity, which was always there, has emerged again. And her writing and photography are the means she’s chosen to share these stories.
Of all her memories, there’s one that’ll always be the most beautiful for her.
“It’s the story of my grandmother’s rice pudding. It’s the story of a mother who knew the tastes of her children inside out, and who stopped making rice pudding for years while mourning the death of her youngest son. She only started making rice pudding again on the birth of her first grandson, a celebration through food.”
Today, she’s looking for more stories in New York. Photography and her desire to work here brought her to the city where anything can happen, and at just the right time, opportunity for a work placement arose and she stayed on. As a freelancer, she divides her time between clients and her personal work. At the moment, she’s working on her own book, inspired by her blog.
“I’m working on the Our Table blog. As I hadn’t updated it for some time, I felt I needed to make it grow in other ways, to transform it into a book. I think it makes everything more mature. And the stories I’ve found deserve to be on paper.”
In her photography, as well as the stories she tells, light and colours are her trademark. The artist Peter Lik
is one of her inspirations and, in her area, she really appreciates the way in which Australian Luisa Brimble
captures the light, moment and action of the photo. In Portugal, she’s a fan of Luís Mileu
and of her friend Isabel Saldanha
She’s also one of the new Esporão Pioneers, and is important in producing our content for the United States. Her work and empathy for what we do have brought about this happy partnership.
“I’m still finding out how to be a Pioneer but for now it’s been great to explore the pairing of the wines with certain recipes. I aim to create a memory with the wines and olive oils, transforming them into a story, and telling this story through pictures.”