Introduction to portuguese food
Portuguese food is famed for being remarkably tasty and varied; those who know Portugal’s gastronomy consider it as one of the best cuisines in the all world.
Enchanting all visitors due to its flavours and aromas, Portuguese food is one of the countries’ symbols. And let me assure you that the fame is well-deserved! The quality of the varied ingredients used by the Portuguese traditional gastronomy is one of the main secrets behind the uniqueness of our dishes. Three main reasons contributed for this ingredients richness: Geography, climate and history.
Portugal has a long coastline therefore it is more than natural that its gastronomy is highly influenced by the sea and the richness of ingredients it provides. Fresh fish and seafood are a must in every coastal restaurant. Charcoal grilled sardines, sea bass, gilt-head sea bream or caldeirada (fish stew) are on the list of the most appreciated Portuguese fish dishes, which is topped by codfish, the Portuguese food symbol. Sea food like prawns, clams, lobsters, crabs or mussels are so fresh that still offer a sea resembling taste when they get to the table. This is why Portuguese sea food is considered by many has the best seafood in the world.
On the other hand, the high quality of our soils assures the quality of all products coming from the land, along good pastures for Portuguese cattle, allowing tasty meat recipes like Cozido à Portuguesa or Carne de porco à Alentejana. Good pastures also provide magnificent cheeses, being Serra da Estrela cheese the most famed.
Portugal’s mild climate provides perfect growing conditions for almost every fruits and vegetables, which are a constant presence at our tables, either served with meat or fish or as ingredients of invigorating and comforting soups like Caldo Verde. Besides, the common usage of vegetables and olive oil in the Portuguese gastronomy also reflects the strong influence of the Mediterranean cuisine.
History is the third decisively element on the uniqueness of our food. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese discovers sailed away to reveal new worlds to the world and, at the same time, they came across exciting new ingredients, especially spices, that they brought back home, broaden our gastronomic horizons and possibilities. The Discoveries were responsible for transforming the Portuguese gastronomy into a melting pot of tastes from all continents.
This amazing panoply of such differentiated ingredients was wisely used to create with mastery recipes that are followed even today, especially on what concerns Portuguese traditional pastry that was almost entirely developed at convents. Our arroz-doce, Pudim abade de Priscos, ovos moles or Pastel de Belem, just to mention a few of the countless delicacies Portugal has to offer for dessert, are truly unmatchable. And let me add that Travesseiros and queijadas are reason enough for spending one day in Sintra!
Nowadays Portuguese cuisine is being reinvented by gifted chefs who, alike the 15th century adventurous sailors, travelled the world in search of new technics and tastes to enrich our ancient recipes without losing the traditional touch.
If Portuguese food is total mystery for you, I dare you to come along and try it. I am sure that you will find it a wonderful surprise you won’t get enough of.