Portugal, a Foodie’s Heaven
If you are heading to this beautiful country and don’t have any idea what to expect about Portuguese food, here you will find everything you need to know.
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Portugal is a world on its own; even as part of the European community, the country has grown into a truly unique entity. Their customs, and the way of life. The fact is that Portuguese food has flourished around a particularly troublesome history, but the warmth of their people and their innate hospitality show on the dinner table.
Food in Portugal goes from legendary wines to incredibly fresh sea produce; from creamy pastries to hearty broths, and it is satisfying in many ways. All you need to know about one of the most exciting and up-and-coming cuisines you will find it here. This is what Portugal’s food is all about.
A Typical Portuguese Breakfast
Portuguese people enjoy three meals a day, being lunch the largest. Of course, like everywhere else on earth, there’s no better way to start the day than with a nutritious breakfast.
Coffee is an essential part of Portuguese culture. A morning mug of milky coffee is not only customary but primordial, always with buttered toast, and maybe some jam. Ham and cheese are other usual suspects. Nothing like a nice, light sandwich to start your engines.
The best way to appreciate your coffee is finding your local pastelaria, or pastry shop, to indulge in a wide variety of pastries. Chocolate, figs, cheese, orange, the flavor profiles are limitless, but we’ll cover the sweet Portuguese cuisine later on.
What really differentiates Portuguese cuisine from others, like the one of neighboring Spain, is people’s love for soup.
Caldo Verde is the most delicious soup in the country. Meaning green broth; it’s made from potatoes, kale (or collard greens), onions and olive oil. Cooks might add ham or sausage before serving, making it more flavorful. It sounds like not much, but this is actually a celebration dish, and it’s served at weddings and national holidays.
The stone soup is another specialty with a picturesque story (but we’ll let you browse that one up!) It’s made with anything from vegetables to cured meats. Sausages, beans, potatoes, onions, garlic and essentially everything you can find make this pottage a wholesome meal. The key ingredient: a stone.
From The Sea
Portuguese typical food has a vast maritime influence; there was a time when the country had the most powerful navy in the world. With 765 miles of coastline, it’s natural that seafood plays a significant role in the country’s kitchens.
Bacalhau is the name for cod, and it’s arguably the most important fish in the country. Sometimes fresh but mostly cured dry, the fish finds its way into many traditional preparations, over 1000 recipes rely on this species alone.
People grill, simmer, fry, and stew all kinds of fish, and it’s all good. Sardines, octopus, prawns, and barnacles find their way to the table too. Canned fish is a delicacy; of course, it’s of higher quality than what we see in western supermarkets.
Meat and Poultry
When it comes to meat, Portugal is a bit more reserved. Historically, beef and pork were reserved for the high society, while the commons fed on fish and vegetables. Having said that, the country has a big tradition for cured meats, hams and sausages. Often served all together in a big cozido à portuguesa stew, made from everything the cook can find and afford.
Lunchtime is from 1 to 3 pm and is called the siesta time when Portugueses go home to eat lunch and nap. Dinner time in Portugal is between 7:30 pm and 11 pm
Feijoada is a bean stew with beef and pork meat is a standout too, and chicken, often seasoned with spicy Piri chilis, is addictive.
For Your Sweet Tooth
Portuguese love sweets. Their immense array of delicious pastries is as varied as any in the world; sugary bread loaves, or rebanadas, egg puddings, and cream cheese tartlets. You can experience a different treat every day for a year, and there would still be plenty left to try.
The one and only Pastéis de Nata is not only the most distinguished Portuguese sweet but one of its most prominent ambassadors. The custard tart is just sweet enough to keep you wanting more without being cloying. A perfect companion for coffee, these little delights can be enjoyed throughout the day. If you want to know where to get Pasteis de Nata or Pasteis de Belem click here. Check what places to visit in Portugal click here.
You can’t talk about Portuguese cuisine without at least mentioning its wines. The fresh and crisp Vinho Verde is the leading wine up North and is a great pairing with Caldo Verde and seafood.
The Modern red wines made around the country compete with the best in Europe, but the fortified wines: Oporto and Madeira enjoy legendary status; they have earned a place in our hearts, and although they’re not as popular as they were a few centuries ago, there will always be time for a glass of port.
As you see, Portuguese food is distinctive and unique. Although with similarities with other European cuisines, you can recognize Lusitanian cooking just for the smell. Dishes are truly warming and inviting; it feels like food has evolved to be enjoyed with your loved ones, to be the center of every social gathering.
Food in Portugal is part of its culture and lifestyle, and now that you know more about it, you’ll enjoy it even more. Whether you like seafood, hearty stews, gorgeous wines or luscious pastries, Portugal has you covered.
Did we miss your favorite Portuguese dishes? Comment bellow share your passion!