If you already read my Portugal… Once again you know how I feel about the food in this country, nevertheless I decided to dedicate this Travel Tips to the typical Portuguese cuisine, trying to stay neutral – no personal comments.
If you are a #foodlover like me – someone calls me food-nazi 😥 – and you like going for typical food and drinks when you visit a new country, then I highly recommend you to read this post.
When you think about Portugal, the first dish that instinctively comes to your mind is the Bacalhau (cod fish); it is the national delicacy, they cook it in many different ways but… Did you know that Portugal does not have cod in its waters?
Exactly: this typical Portuguese dish was originally imported from Norway during the XVI century. Isn’t it curious? 🙂
Bacalhau com nata, bacalhau a bras, bacalhau a minhota, bacalhau a lagareiro…
My favourite? Bolinhos de bacalhau: fried balls of creamy cod fish.
You can find it literally everywhere in Lisbon but also in other cities; be aware that sometimes they may be leftovers from the morning (or even from earlier than the morning).
Another strong presence in the Portuguese cuisine is the Polvo (octopus), mostly grilled or cooked a lagareiro so with olive oil and garlic, often accompanied by olives and potatoes.
No, I haven’t forgotten to include in this list also the octopus salad – don’t worry – but I cannot even forget to mention the Sardinhas that you can order grilled at the restaurant or buy canned in supermarkets or in every souvenir shop.
It goes without saying that, being half of Portugal touched by the sea, seafood and fish here are consumed in large quantities but this does not mean that’s the only thing they eat.
Between its typical dishes this warm country offers also meat ones, like the Bifanas: soft and tasty sandwiches filled with pork meat marinated in beer – my mouth is watering only by thinking of it… oh sorry, I said no personal comments.
If you’re not a pork fan, you can try the beef version called Prego, but if you are a pork fan then you also must try Chouriço: it looks like salami but usually is not eaten raw; it is made of meat, fat and sometimes blood of the pork. I found out there are different varieties – de Sangue, de Cebola and de Manu 😛
Now, if you are like me, after so much salty food you will need some sweet, right? Pastel de nata is what you need: a little pastry with a yellow cream made out of eggs. My favourites in town are those of the Manteigaria, a franchising that you’ll easily find.
To digest all this food ingested on your first day in Portugal, you can opt for a shot of Ginja: cherry liquor, sweet and strong, often served in a chocolate little glass.
As I am currently based in Lisbon most of the time I refer to places and dishes eaten here but thanks to my wandering around the country I had the luck to find out some delicacies typical of other regions.
For example if we move more or less 1 hour out of Lisbon towards south we get to Setúbal, known for its gorgeous beaches and for the Choco frito, golden pieces of fried squid.
In the same area, but inland, is Azeitão where I only had a cold daytrip to try amazing wine basically.
Typical of this region is the Moscatel, a sweet wine that in clubs is often served with ice and a slice of lemon, however this little town also gives its name to some tasteful and buttery cheese – Queijo de Azeitão – and a rolled sweet omelette (not sure if this counts as a personal comment) simply called Torta de Azeitão.
Let’s move a bit north and go to Aveiro, the “Portuguese Venezia”. From its nickname is pretty understandable that this city is characterized by canals and boats called not gondolas but moliceiros.
Everywhere in town you will find these white things in photo; their name is Ovos moles, it’s about a cream of yolks and sugar closed in what looks like a communion wafer…
I’ll explain: this pastry traces its origin to the nuns of the 20th century; they used to clean their habits with the white of the egg and one day they realized that the yalk could be used and not wasted so they started to make and sell these sweets to support their convents (here’s also the reason why the communion wafer).
The same yolks cream is also hidden under the whipped cream of the Cartuchos, sweet cones of chocolate dough (I read that the best are in Pastelaria Ramos but I found it closed – of course); anyways definitely more akin to my palate are the Tripas de chocolate which more precisely are from Costa Nova, let’s say the beach side of Aveiro; thiker than crepes, filled with chocolate or several other choices.
Driving north for 50 minutes, we can arrive to the jewel called Porto, the second city in Portugal. This city in the Douro valley is home to the homonym sweet wine and to the Francesinha, a French toast filled with EVERY kind of meat that floats in a salty wine broth; on top of the bread… a fried egg. We said no personal comment.
If we fly out of the mainland, mentioning the volcanic cuisine and the cheese of the Azores is a must – if you read my post about São Miguel you know that these islands count a huge number of cows so cheese and meat are more than common.
Once out of the mainland, why don’t we fly southern too (or swim :P) to find a slightly better weather? Well, actually not only for the weather but also to try the original Poncha, an alcoholic mix of aguardente, honey, lemon and sugar. Where? In Madeira of course, island that produces its own wine too and a huge amount of little bananas.
For the moment my list ends here, but if you – Portuguese or not – have other recommendations for “unmissable” food in this country… feel free to share them with us, foodlovers 🙂
Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page…
I’ll read ya!