My Portugal Series: Nathan Tavares

We're back with the March edition of My Portugal, our newsletter series dedicated to exploring Portuguese culture through interviews with friends of Portugalia Marketplace. We're thrilled to introduce our next guest:
Nathan Tavares is a writer from Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in the Portuguese-American community of southeastern Massachusetts and at an early age developed a love for fantastical stories. He is the author of the queer-focused, multiverse-hopping sci-fi novel A FRACTURED INFINITY, and his second novel, WELCOME TO FOREVER, debuted on March 12, 2024 from Titan Books.

Portugalia Marketplace: Your family is from the São Miguel Island of Portugal. Can you tell our readers a little about this particular region?


Nathan Tavares: São Miguel is really a tropical paradise. I went there frequently as a kid, though I unfortunately haven’t been back in a while. I still have really vivid memories of running around the volcanic black sand beaches with my sisters and friends. And being so amazed by the natural beauty, from the area of Furnas with its active caldera and hot springs, to roads lined with hydrangeas, and the twin blue and green lakes in the crater of a volcano in Sete Cidades. Ponta Delgada, the lone city on the island, is full of baroque architecture with ornate gates and archways, and the small towns have these lovely squares. There’s no place on earth quite like it.

PM: Growing up in the Portuguese-American community of southeastern Massachusetts, what were some traditions, events, or cultural practices that were particularly meaningful to you and your family? Do you continue to engage with these traditions today?


NT: We always had big family gatherings centered around food during the holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. My maternal grandmother, who passed away a few years back, would get up at four or five in the morning to cook these elaborate feasts, everything from American turkey, to stuffing with chouriço, to codfish and octopus. She also used to make massa sovada, or sweet bread, which would take about twelve hours, from making the dough, and letting it rest, and then separating it into different pans, and decorating the loaves with eggs. It’s a tradition my mom, aunt, and myself have tried to keep alive the last few years. The process takes so much work, and it’s amazing my grandmother did this alone well into her late eighties.

We also used to go to the feast at St. Michael’s Church in Fall River, MA every summer. My twin sister now lives in England with her husband and children, but we went back while they were visiting last summer. It was such a nice walk down memory lane, and a way to get her children involved in family traditions. I still try hard to keep these traditions alive, which takes a little more effort now that I live in Boston. But it’s so worth it.


PM: How has this community changed over the years, if at all?


NT: I love that the community still celebrates traditional food with so many delicious Portuguese restaurants going strong. I noticed that the crowd at St. Michael’s Feast last summer was smaller, but that only makes preserving these traditions more important. And I’m glad that the Boston Portuguese Festival came back in 2023, and will be back again this June. I know that immigrant enclaves everywhere tend to shrink–that’s just how assimilation into American culture works–but it’s really wonderful that there’s a big effort to keep Portuguese traditions and culture alive.

PM: What inspired you to pursue a career in Journalism?


NT: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was seven. I studied English and creative writing, and very luckily fell into a job working at a magazine in my twenties. At the time I thought, “this will be a temporary career while I get my creative writing off the ground.” But then when it seemed like my creative writing had stalled, I really gained a deeper appreciation for journalism as storytelling, and as a way to help other people share their stories. Especially in these last eight years or so, I’ve been really inspired by the idea of journalism as service. Like, what can I as a person in the media to help boost the stories of others? How can I help?


PM: Your editorial work with publications like Eater Boston and Boston Magazine has played a significant role in highlighting the Portuguese communities of Massachusetts. For someone visiting the area to experience this vibrant culture, what would be your top-three Portuguese restaurant recommendations?


NT: Oh, man. Don’t make me choose! It’s so hard to narrow down restaurant recommendations. I would definitely say Caravela. The food is so reasonably priced, delicious, and the portions are huge. Last time I was there, I ordered the alentejana and got three meals out of it. Then there’s Sagres for the bacalhau à Gomes de Sá and steak in a beautiful atmosphere. I’d recommend Avo’s Feast, too. Their food is so delicious, and a few bifana sandwiches and a side of favas or some cod fish cakes is perfect for lunch on-the-go.

PM: In addition to your editorial work, you’ve published two books and several other short stories. Has your Portuguese heritage shaped the themes and characters in your fiction writing in any way? If so, can you share specific experiences or cultural elements that have shaped your storytelling?


NT: The main character of my first book, A Fractured Infinity, is named Hayes Figueiredo and his upbringing pretty much mirrors mine, as he grew up in a Portuguese household. So that shaped so much about his character, from his relationship with his family, to his thoughts on faith, to his appreciation for the Portuguese language. I was able to sneak some local references into my second book, Welcome to Forever. There’s a town in the novel called River Falls, which might sound familiar to people from the Fall River area. And there’s a restaurant in the town called the Waterstreet Cafe, which is the name of the restaurant I worked at in Battleship Cove when I was in college.


PM: Finally, where can our readers find you to stay updated on your latest works?


NT: I keep my website,, up to date with info about my work and events. Your best bet is to follow me on Instagram, where my username is @natewasthere.
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