17 days of Portuguese cuisine – as Joey from Friends would say ”A moment on the lips forever on the hips!”, but I would add – a really good moment on the lips:)
BACALHAU or CODFISH
The popularity of cod fish is associated with the Age of Discoveries, since the salted cod fish could last for a long time, but it soon became integrated in the daily diet of the Portuguese people, and now they are the largest consumers of this product in the whole world. It is said there are more than 365 ways to cook bacalhau, one for every day of the year. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to try all of them, but some I managed.
Christmas lunch is actually made out of the leftovers, all mixed together, and the dish is called Roupa velha – ‘the old clothes’
Mashed potatoes and codfish baked in the oven, bacalhau com natas or cod fish with cream, pastel/bolinho de bacalhau or codfish cake, baked codfish with mushroom risotto, pastel de bacalhau com queijo da serra or codfish cake with cheese from North region of Portugal…
What I was really surprised about was that in Lisbon you could still find some small restaurants with good, cheap and authentic food. Actually these two ladies on the poster in front of the restaurant are the chefs, and there is only one more girl serving the food.
The Spanish have their tapas, but the Portuguese also have their petiscos. The only problem is that they don’t come in small portions…
Like Galicians, Portuguese also have a lot of seafood in their daily diet. They also have percebes or gooseneck barnacles, and I actually tried them for the first time. They might look ugly from the outside, but once you clean them, the inside is really tasty.
Portuguese desserts are mostly made of eggs, sugar, bread(ish pastries) and cinnamon. They don’t use a lot of nuts, which is something typical of Croatian traditional cakes. They only eat walnuts and some dried fruits for Christmas.
Sonhos, Pão de Ló, Rabanadas…
The most typical Christmas dessert is called Bolo Rei, that is King cake, and it is made with candied fruit and nuts, but nowadays Bolo Rainha can be found, and this one has only got nuts inside the dough.
One of the places that I visited was Sintra, and I was told that when in Sintra, one must go to Piriquita and try queijadas and travesseiros. Well, as you could see from the photo, I liked queijadas, and I had two of them the next day.
The last but not least, the queen of all pastéis de nata, I present the original Pastéis de Belém, from Lisbon. The recipe was created by Catholic monks at the Jeronimos Monastery, who were originally based in France and loved French pastries. Since at that time egg-whites were used for starching of clothes, there were a lot of leftover egg yolks, so they were used to make cakes and pastries. At the time of the extinction of the religious orders, the monks started selling pastéis de nata at the nearby sugar refinery. It didn’t help them for too long, as the monastery was closed in 1834, and the recipe sold to the refinery, whose owners opened a factory called Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, and their descendents still run the business.