5 Things You Should Definitely Eat In Portugal

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Portugal is famous for the warm weather, extreme diversity, eminent architecture, beautiful beaches, friendly people, famous wines, and the vivacious nightlife it offers. But the rich food experience offered here usually gets overshadowed because of its neighbors, France and Italy.

The cuisine in Portugal is influenced by Mediterranean flavors and is reliant heavily on seafood. Olive oil and spices are used to season almost every dish. The bakeries here serve delicious sausage, cheese, and dessert to complete your gastronomic experience.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are five things you should definitely eat in Portugal:

1. Azeitão Cheese

Portugal might not be known for its cheeses like Italy and France are, but the few varieties they do have are absolutely scrumptious. Portugal cheese, in particular the Queijo de Azeitão, is extremely popular here, and easily available in Lisbon’s cheese bar and wine shops.

Queijo de Azeitão is a PDO cheese from Azeitão, a small town about an hour away from the capital. The cheese, made from raw sheep milk, is rich and creamy, with a buttery center and distinct herbaceous flavor. Instead of animal rennet, thistle flowers are used to separate whey from the milk curds, making it ideal for vegetarians.

It’s usually served as a dessert with jam, but you can also scoop it out to spread it onto a cracker or bread. Or, it also pairs well with red wine. Enjoy it at any time of the day – at the end or beginning of a meal – or just because.

2. Pastèis de Nata

Portuguese custard tarts, aka pastel de nata, are well-known all over the world. After port wine, they’re probably Portugal’s most famous export. It is why it would be an absolute sin to miss out on eating them in Portugal, the country where this iconic treat was first created. Whenever going out to the countryside, make sure to carry these tarts and enjoy in your roof rack tent while adoring the beautiful nature around.

This palm-sized dessert requires only a small list of ingredients to make the oozy custard fill the flaky outer casing – flour, sugar, egg yolks, and cream. But don’t let that fool you – they’re utterly satisfying when you’re craving a snack, no matter what time of day.

Pastel de nata is rather easy to find in Portugal as it’s sold in practically every bakery. While the traditional way to enjoy this divine treat is by sprinkling some sugar and cinnamon when it’s fresh out of the oven, there is no such thing as a bad custard tart in Lisbon.

3. Cataplana de marisco

The cataplana is a clamshell pot, usually made of copper, that originated in Algarve, Portugal. Yes – it’s a double-pan and it can be opened and closed like a clam does. It’s used to cook and serve traditional Portuguese dishes like the Cataplana de carne de porco com amêijoas, Cataplana de peixe (fish), and Cataplana de marisco.

Cataplana de marisco, which means seafood stew served in a Cataplana, is an exquisite dish in eateries across the country. The recipe for it depends on where you’re ordering it, but potatoes, chili, onions, peppers, and whitefish usually remain common.

The way the cataplana is designed ensures that all the meat and seafood get impeccably steamed and no moisture escapes when it’s being cooked. It’s usually served warm, with bread, rice or chips so you can savor every eon of its delectable flavor.

4.Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde, which translates to green broth, is the epitome of comfort food. It’s a grandmother’s recipe, and no party is complete without it. It originated in Minho, a region in North Portugal, but is now served everywhere, including church festivals, birthdays, and weddings.

The base is made using a few readily available ingredients like collard greens, onion puree, potato, shredded kale, olive oil, and garlic. Just before it’s served, slices of boiled linguiça, chouriço, or paio are added to it. International variations add meat bones, ham hocks, or white beans. This healthy food is highly nutritious, seeing as it is rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Caldo Verde is the perfect light dinner as it is affordable yet comforting. It has delicious texture and is full of flavor, especially perfect to start your meal or for cold winter nights. It’s usually served with broa cornbread for dipping.

5. Bifana

The Bifanas, which are pork sandwiches, are perhaps the most indulgent street food sandwiches you will ever eat. It first originated in south-east Portugal, in a region called Alentejo. However, it’s now easily available throughout the country.

Dubbed the National Portuguese Sandwich, Bifanas are thin slices of pre-marinated and fried pork loin or cutlets stuffed between papa seco. The marinade, which usually consists of white wine, spices, and garlic, makes the sandwich greasy and juicy on the inside, while the bread outside is still crunchy.

The Bifana makes for a great budget snack with beer, or even as a light lunch. It’s also served with some fries and Caldo Verde to make it a full meal. It’s so flavorful, you will eat it all up.

Final Thoughts

Fresh, balanced, and tasty food is vital to the fabric of life in Portugal. The fusion of flavors that comes from simple ingredients coming together makes each dish really special, full of memories and traditions. The five things mentioned above are wholesome and fresh and you simply cannot afford to miss them when you’re in Portugal.