Notes on Eating in Portugal

People say I’ve been lucky, but in the five visits I’ve made to Portugal over the past few years, I haven’t had a bad meal. Not that all have been award winning either, but the majority have been simple and fresh, with a great house wine and a bill that makes you question how they stay in business.

On my most recent trip to the Douro Valley, I was able to taste Portuguese specialties I’d never tried before, like Chicken Blood Rice and countless (and equally delicious) variations of salted cod. Yet despite trying new things (and enjoying most of them), I also sensed something familiar. While going through some pictures of my visit I realized what it was–

Spanish and Portuguese cuisines are very similar:

Exhibit A: Cured ham

Cured ham Portugal
Cured ham in Portugal.
Cured ham and melon
Cured ham and melon, a perfect combination.

Exhibit B: Croquettes

croquettes in Portugal
Croquettes are common in Spain and apparently Portugal too!
Portuguese croquettes
Salted cod croquettes.

Exhibit C: Organ Meats 

Portuguese Tripe Stew
Portuguese Tripe Stew– tastes like home!
Chicken gizzards
Chicken gizzards anyone?
Organ Meats
A plate of blood sausage, liver, kidneys, and more…

Exhibit D: Love for the pig

Matanza
Celebrating the live slaughter with music and festivities.
pig slaughter
Pictures from last year’s event at Camelo Restaurant.
Pork Ribs
Pork ribs in wine (the end result).
Pig heads
Like in Spain, nothing goes to waste.

But although a lot of the food is really quite similar, there were differences too. The use of salted cod was much greater than in most of Spain, and I tried some incredible cod dishes– one with a creamy bechamel sauce that I forget the name of but still dream about. There were also lots of fresh legume based salads with salted cod that were healthy, delicious, and filling. And, finally, their coffee is better. It is a fact, and I am jealous.

Garbanzos and cod
A cold salad of garbanzos and cod.
coffee portugal
Far superior coffee!

I can’t wait to return to Portugal to keep eating the food I’ve come to love, and also to search for more Portuguese specialties. If you have a recommendation for next time, let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Check out saborintenso.com for countless videos of Portuguese specialties.
    I wish I could find equivalent sites for Spanish, French and Italian food.
    Do you know of any?

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