Cuisine is one of the Portuguese culture’s most integral parts. From the innovative restaurants to the cafe culture to the street stands and markets in each city, small village and town, food seems to be always on the mind of the people in the country.
The center of the conventional Portuguese cuisine is about home-style comfort food that friends and family enjoy. Historically, most of the population in the country was poor farmers, and families then relied upon what they could grow, hunt or raise. From such ingredients, families cooked up anything they could use without wasting a thing. These days, much of such cooking and serving methods are still ingrained into the modern cuisine focusing on simple grains, produce, fish and meals.
Although conventional Portuguese cuisine tends to vary throughout every region, some general ingredients are used nearly everywhere. Garlic, tomatoes and onions are used as a base found in most braised and stewed fish dishes like rustic fish stew and monkfish or shellfish stewed with rice. Onions are roasted garlic are used with roasted foods. Coriander is the favorite seasoning for nearly all dishes whether roasted or stewed. Other common seasonings include bay leaf, oregano and paprika.
Seasonal and Regional Products
Southern and central Portugal are full of beautiful orange trees planted in acres of land and the majority of cafes provide fresh-squeezed sweet orange juice in the winter. In the summer, travellers have great selections of juicy and ripe melons like the typical cantaloupe and watermelon. In the early winter and fall up north, there are plenty of wild mushrooms. Hunting season is famous with gourmet and local restaurants providing fresh game like venison, partridge, quail, pheasant and wild boar. Duck and rabbit are typically raised in farms and available at any time of the year.
The people in Portuguese also know about making great specialty artisanal food products that travellers surely do not wish to miss. Their breads and pastries are the most popular. Bread baking in the country started from the need of poor farming families to come up with their own things and with the abundance of windmills perched on almost all mountaintops and hills, cornmeal and flour were common commodities. Each region offers various kinds of bread. Common ones include broa-de-milho and pão Alentejano.
Pastry making came into life as a by-product from the convents and wine business as egg whites were utilized by makers of wine to filter wines and by monasteries and convents to press and starch their habits. Therefore, there were many leftover egg yolks and they were used by sisters and friars along with cinnamon and sugar imported from the colonies in the country to begin a business making egg sweets. These days, pastries are quite famous that travellers will always find at least two pastelerias or cafes.
Travellers who are not into sweets can try a number of the delicious charcuterie and handmade cheese in Portugal. Some of the globally popular Portuguese cheese includes Queijo de Serpa, Serra de Estrela and Azeitão.
As with other famous tourist destinations in Europe, Portugal boasts of its own cuisines. If you are planning to travel to this country now to try various Portuguese dishes, check out Voyage Uniktour.