Thursday 3 May 2018

When in Portugal, Eat like an “Abbot”

To say the Portuguese are “fond” of food, is like saying that the Indians are “fond” of Cricket. For the Portuguese, a meal is religion – to be savored and be faithful! But we Indians are not far off, are we? So, it was hardly surprising, when during my recent visit to Portugal, I was as enamored by the quaint and picturesque Portuguese towns as I was with the delectable and mouth-watering spectacle of the Portuguese dishes. Even if you are not a foodie like me, it would be impossible to avoid food in Portugal, as it is almost as reverent as the Romanesque or Baroque church!
Since I was so fascinated by the foods around me, I thought about doing a blog dedicated to the foods of Portugal. Although I have mentioned only the top five must try dishes on your next visit, I have also added some of my favorite pictures as well – random ones of the dishes that we tried and absolutely loved!

1. Portuguese Desserts:
I am aware that traditionally desserts come at the end of the meal, but what else is to be expected from a blog whose writer does not only have a sweet tooth, but an entire sweet mouth! So, I am going to begin my list with deserts! And at the top of the list is, most certainly, Custard tarts (also known as Egg tarts). The fact that they are the most popular sweet dish of Portugal is proven by the fact that no respectable café can be found operational without it’s proud display of Custard tarts. Good with breakfast, good with afternoon coffee, good as a dessert post dinner – basically good, period! So, do not finish your trip to Portugal without a bite into this delicacy. Like they say in Portugal – “You can never just eat one fig”.



2. Francesinha:

Originally from the Portuguese town of Porto, this is now a staple dish across the country. Although it may sound weird, it is a cross between a sandwich and lasagne. It has a layer of a local bread, wet ham, a steak or a roast meat of your choice, one or two layers of thick cheese and often topped with a fried egg and served with a tomato/ cheese sauce and potato fries. Delicious and an absolute must try dish when in Portugal, but my only friendly tip would be try this on an empty or near-empty stomach! Certainly not for light or healthy eaters!!

3. Bacalhau:
Literally translated, Bacalhau is Cod fish. And Bacalhau is essentially dried and salted cod. So, you are bound to find different interpretations of the cod fish in different parts of the country. Every café or restaurant prepares and serves this dish with their own style, so if you do like cod fish, try Bacalhau at least at a couple or more different places, you will be pleasantly surprised every time. Another friendly tip – just check with the waiter or server the kind of sauce and preparation used in that restaurant, so you are sort of sure what you prefer and what you don’t.

4. Sardines : Another local favorite, especially in the summers!

Like Bacalhau, there are various ways in which Sardines are prepared in different parts of Portugal. But the local favorites are pickled (a bit strong for Indian palette, though!) or pan-fried and served with potatoes. But as per your preference, you can try this fish in pasta, curries or even in Francesinha! Just make sure that the restaurant serves you the smallest fish in store. The Portuguese have a famous saying – “With a woman and a sardine, you want the smallest one”!!

5. Shellfish:

Whether it is the Portuguese version of the Paella, or their own plethora of shellfish-based gastronomy, they are an absolute must try. And like with most the Portuguese diet, it is best if you chose a dish which is simple but champions the local produce. The shellfish itself is so fresh and tender that it rarely needs too much embellishments! So, dig in those mussels and octopodes and enjoy a slice of fish heaven!!

We also visited a local fish market in Porto and the sheer freshness of the produce and the variety just blew us away!


Now that I have got you drooling, hope you do try at least a couple (if not all) of the local delicacies on your next visit to Portugal. Like they say there – “Guarda que comer, não guardas que fazer. (Save something to eat, don’t save something to do)!!
Till next time – Bom Apetite!!

-Gouri Patwardhan
 For So-Saree


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