Last Saturday, Place Flagey in Brussels hosted the second edition of “I Love Portugal” – an event that can be called a “Portuguese neighborhood party” in the commune of Ixelles/Elsene. The event was organized by a Portuguese expat António Burcardini and was attended by the Portuguese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Bourgmestre de Ixelles.
Ambassador António Vasco Alves Machado noted that this event has a very big importance for the commune since Ixelles always had one of the largest Portuguese communities historically. He also stressed that this is a perfect occasion for promotion of the quality goods & products, not only gastronomy but also of culture & heritage.
“I Love Portugal” was born in 2017, a year in which there were communal elections in Belgium. “Initially, the idea was to mobilize the expatriates of Brussels to register in the different Communes and to vote. The Europe Department of the Commune of Ixelles challenged me to organize an event here at Place Sainte Croix so that all Portuguese merchants could be present, merchants going beyond gastronomy and wine but also bookstores, sports, here represented by the Benfica House, at the time the Portuguese Football Federation in Belgium… It was an eclectic event and, through this event we managed to create a bridge between the Commune of Ixelles and the Portuguese Community “explained António Buscardini, the organizer.
Interestingly, Ixelles is a commune in which 67% of the population is foreign and of these, 14% is Portuguese. “The Portuguese population that lives here is huge,” says António Buscardini.
“The specificity of Ixelles is to have people coming from all over the world. We have all continents represented. We have some communities that are more historically represented and it is true that the Portuguese community is part of these communities”, said Ixelles bourgmestre Christos Doulkeridis.
The Bourgmestre explained that “in this neighborhood, in particular on the Rue de la Brasserie and on the Avenue de la Couronne, we have some exceptional Portuguese businesses, with a very strong community”.
Some of the participating stands included: Café Portugal, Pastelaria Garcia, The Sol Ar and Vidão wines, Dão wines, Livrebooks and La Petite Portugaise bookstores, the Benfica House of Brussels, the Portuguese Embassy, the Farmers’ Confederation of Portugal, Caixa Geral de Depósitos…
“It is very important to be here because promoting Portugal and our products is always important,” says Patricia Marques from The Sol Ar. “It is also important because it is an initiative that is only two years old and all new initiatives need help and presence of merchants, associations, institutions, all of us who represent the image of Portugal in Belgium.”
The weather was quite cool but people didn’t miss the opportunity to dance and enjoy the atmosphere!
Traditionally, the Pastéis de Nata was selling well. The queue in front of Pastry Garcia was constant throughout the afternoon. Portuguese music was playing all the time to cheer the audience.
The Mayor of Ixelles Christos Doulkeridis had very positive message for this event – “For us it is important to support this kind of projects, to tell the Portuguese that, here they are at home. For us, it is important to have this community present here in Ixelles. In Ixelles we can feel Portuguese, Malian, Greek, Belgian, French, English, everyone is welcome and we are proud to show this diversity and to tell them, they are home”.
António Buscardini was also very happy that this event continues to thrive and that local political circumstances and changes do not influence the vision and goal of this event – it will continue to celebrate Portuguese culture and its connection with the cosmopolitan soul of the Ixelles/Elsene.