Despite being relatively restricted to an Atlantic sustenance, Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean influences. Famous for seafood, the influence of Portugal’s former colonial possessions is very notable in the wide variety of spices used. The Portuguese brought coriander, pepper, ginger, curry, saffron and paprika to Europe. As they expanded their empire overseas, they were the first European country to dock in China, Japan and Ethiopia, bringing back with them many exotic, new products. They brought rice and tea from Asia, coffee and peanuts from Africa and pineapples, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes from the New World.
Portuguese traditional food
The Portuguese traditional food is based mainly on seafood and pork. There was such an emphasis on seafood because of the country’s long, Atlantic coastline. The cuisine also includes a lot of soups as main dishes, including sopa de marisco and caldo verde.
Other Portuguese specialities are caldeirada de peixe – a stew with several types of fish, and carne de porco a Alentejana – pork covered with clam and tomato sauce.
The people are very fond of codfish ! Portuguese people say that there are as many different ways to prepare it as there are days in the year. Two cod recipes are Bacalhau à gomes de sá – cod with potato, egg and olives, and pasteis de bacalhau – little cod cakes.
Another popular fish is the sardine, which is rumoured to be best prepared in Portugal and is served at every Portuguese barbecue and celebration.
The grilled steak – bife à Portuguesa- can be tasted throughout the country, as well as the espetadas (kebabs); marinated in wine and garlic, carneiro (mutton) and borrego (lamb). In the poultry section, you can sample the peru (turkey), the arroz de pato (duck), the perdiz (partridge) and the pigeon, each of which is served in a different way according to the region.
A Portuguese breakfast often consists of fresh bread, with butter, ham, cheese or jam, accompanied by coffee, milk, tea or hot chocolate. A small espresso coffee (a bica) is a very popular beverage during breakfast, which is enjoyed at home or at the many cafés in towns and cities throughout Portugal.
Lunch, often lasting over an hour, is served between noon and 2 o’clock, typically around 1 o’clock and dinner is generally served around 8 o’clock.
There are three main courses, with lunch and dinner usually including a soup. A common Portuguese soup is caldo verde, which is made with potato, shredded collard greens, and chunks of chouriço.
Among fish recipes, salted cod (bacalhau) dishes are pervasive.
The most typical desserts are arroz doce (rice pudding decorated with cinnamon) and caramel custard.
There is also a wide variety of cheeses made from the milk of sheep, goats or cows. These cheeses can also contain a mixture of different kinds of milk. The most famous are queijo da serra from the region of Serra da Estrela, Queijo São Jorge from the Portuguese island of São Jorge, and Requeijão.
A popular pastry is the pastel de nata, a small custard tart often sprinkled with cinnamon.
Would you like to learn preparing some of our traditional dishes ?
At Tribos Tours, we not only want to show you how beautiful is our country, but also introduce you to our gastronomy by learning some of our famous recipes during a workshop with a real portuguese chief !
Join us in this beautiful adventure so you can take some of our culture when going back home.