Much more than just codfish and pastel de nata
Portuguese cuisine is considered a simple cuisine, but extremely rich in flavor. It is, perhaps, one of the most underestimated internationally, little remembered even for those already initiated. The truth is that you will hardly leave disappointed with a meal: there is usually great carefulness in the selection of the ingredients, the preparation of the dishes and also the size of the portions.
Among the most popular traditional dishes of the country’s gastronomy are Portuguese stew (cozido à Portuguesa), cod (in all its variations), codfish cakes (bolinho de bacalhau), green broth (caldo verde) and pastel de nata. But the Portuguese cuisine is much more than that, for sure! Depending on the region, you will find different recipes and presentations of the national specialties: stews, açordas (typical soup from Alentejo), soups cod, sardines, clams, octopus, snails, migas, alheiras and chorizo (delicious traditional sausages).
With a strong Mediterranean and Atlantic influence, Portuguese cuisine has the mark of the people who inhabited this region of the Iberian peninsula throughout the centuries (Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors), the intense commerce of the great navigations and the influences from African, American and Asian colonies.
The Iberian country also has a long and important wine tradition. Wine is produced in all continental regions, from Minho to Algarve, passing through the Douro and Alentejo, and also in the islands of the Azores and Madeira, with vast quantities of native, red and white castes. The obvious highlight is for Port, produced in the Douro region, which landscape and its vineyards were considered UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
About confectionery, pastel de nata is undoubtedly the most famous. Originally produced by the Pastéis de Belém factory, according to the old recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in the parish of Belém (Lisbon), nowadays, it is produced throughout the country. But if the idea is to venture into new flavors, do not forget to try also the barriga de freira (literally nun’s belly), the soft eggs of Aveiro (ovos moles), Berlin’s ball (bola de Berlim), toucinho do cèu, chocolate salami, and the Abade de Priscos pudding. Treat yourself!