Portugal has a very diverse culture, due in part to the fact that it had the oldest European colonial empire and took influence from several of its dependencies over the centuries. As a seafaring nation on the Atlantic ocean, they have a very large fishing industry, and are known for their wine and their unique Mediterranean-inspired flavors. If you find yourself in a resort or hotel in this lovely nation, here are some dishes and Portuguese foods you can likely expect to find at your table.
Portuguese Cuisine: Fish, Fish, Fish
Portugal consumes more fish per capita than anywhere else in Europe. They grill, boil, simmer and poach their seafood, never mind the recipes which call for frying, stewing, and pickling. The most popular species by far is cod, which the locals call. There are apparently more than 365 ways to cook it - one for every day of the year, and change - rendering any consumption of leftovers an affront to tradition and national pride. Cod, which is most often dried and salted, in keeping with traditions that stretch back before the invention of refrigeration. They also love to eat shrimp, sardines, octopi, lampreys, and multiple varieties of shellfish. 'Bacalhau com todos', literally translating to 'everything in a pot', is a recipe which combines the famous whitefish, boiled vegetables, a hard-boiled egg, all tossed in a pot with olive oil, garlic, and white wine vinegar.
Popular vegetables in Portugal include tomatoes, onions, and cabbage. Feijoada is an oft-made stew which combines white or red kidney beans with fresh beef or pork, along with vegetables and rice, and slowly heated in a thick pot. Potatoes are also quite widely eaten. Caldo verde is a soup made from kale and chorizo sausage, and is one of the most ordered soups in the country. The locals love meats of all kinds; historically, only the rich upper classes could afford it, but now it features in a variety of dishes.
One very interesting meat-based story out of the country concerns Alheira, a sausage which is made with meats other than pork - veal, chicken, or duck combined with bread. It was invented by the Jewish population during the Portuguese Inquisition years, starting in 1536. Many had been forced to convert to Christianity; while outwardly they obeyed, many communities continued to practice their original religion in secret. One of the most visible dietary restrictions of Judaism is the fact that they are not allowed to eat any meat from a pig; thus, those who refused sausages in public were easily identifiable as Jews.
They invented the Alheira by mixing Kosher meat with bread to achieve the correct consistency, and smoking or grilling it. Alheira is still a popular type of fast food, where it's served with fried potatoes and an egg. If you're in Portugal, be sure to try their port; it's often considered flawless like a diamond. The wine of the country is very well known.
For dessert, sample some local marzipan, or have some fios de ovos, which is made out of egg yolks stretched into thin, angel hair strands and boiled in sugary syrup.
Author: Jamie Matzke. Pamper yourself at one of Europe's finest vacation spots Vilar do Golf, Portugal - located in an premier spot in the Algarve, Vilar-do-Golf is a modern resort situated in a lush landscape. You'll fine plenty of traditional Portuguese food over there 😉
Contributed by Regev Elya.
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