Food In Portugal
The flavours and dishes of Portuguese cuisine are heavily influenced by both the Mediterranean and Portugal’s situation on the Atlantic Ocean. With many seafood dishes, Portuguese cuisine puts fish and shellfish at the centre of many dishes. Furthermore, the food in Portugal has historically been influenced by Portugal’s spice trade and therefore uses a variety of spices in some of its most famous dishes. The Mediterranean influence shows itself in the liberal use of olive oil, onions and garlic, whilst each region in Portugal has its own traditional dishes.
Truly, a trip to Portugal is a gastronomic journey, and wherever you travel you’ll encounter flavoursome and delicious dishes! From mouth-watering pastel de nata to spicy chicken dishes and moreish port wine, let Portuguese cuisine delight you on your next tour of Portugal!
Pastel de Nata
Perhaps the most famous food in Portugal, these bite-sized treats are now available at cafes and coffee shops around the world. A perfect tea-time accompaniment, pastels de nata are an integral part of Portuguese cuisine and culture. These egg-custard tarts can trace their history back more than 300 years, to Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. The story goes that the busy monks of Jerónimos Monastery used to use egg whites to starch their laundry. Therefore, there were plenty of egg yolks to make use of, and hence, the pastel de nata was born! If you travel to Lisbon today, eating a pastel de nata from the cafe beside this monastery is a must-do foodie experience!
The national soup of Portugal, Caldo Verde is heralded for its health-giving properties. With its origins in the northern Minho region of Portugal, Caldo Verde is a soup containing potatoes, onions and leafy greens. Combined together to create a hearty soup, Caldo Verde is one of the most traditional dishes in Portuguese cuisine and has long been a budget-friendly dish accessible to the entire population. Today, you’ll find Caldo Verde on the menus of almost all of the country’s eateries, from humble cafes to luxury hotels, making it an unmissable dish to try on a vacation to Portugal!
Most often served grilled, sardines are a staple in Portuguese cuisine. What the sea provides in abundance, Portuguese cuisine celebrates in its most simple yet delicious form. Traditionally, sardines are roasted whole over an open fire and seasoned with plenty of salt. You’ll most likely encounter sardines on the menus at traditional Portuguese restaurants as well as during summer festivals, most notably the Feast of St. Anthony, also known as the ‘Sardine Festival’.
One of the most internationally celebrated Portuguese dishes, Piri-Piri Chicken has become famous in recent years due to the proliferation of a number of international restaurant chains that serve this traditional Portuguese dish! Consisting of a grilled butterflied chicken, the chilli variety known as ‘Piri-Piri' is used to glaze the meat, creating a deliciously moreish flavour that tantalizes the taste buds of all who try it! The roots of this dish can be traced back to the Portuguese colonists who visited African countries such as South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique and brought back the prized chilli species used in this dish. Usually served up with a side of french fries or salad, you can’t miss this simple yet delicious Portuguese dish if you travel to Portugal!
Everyone loves a good sandwich, and the Portuguese sandwich known as bifana is a must-eat for foodies who visit Portugal. Deceptively simple, a bifana consists of a bread roll filled with marinated pork cutlets. The secret is in the spiced marinade that is used to season the cutlets, which usually involves garlic, white wine and spices such as paprika. Of course, as you travel around the country you’ll find regional varieties of this simple sandwich, with each restaurant offering its own take on this classic Portuguese dish. Furthermore, bifanas are usually eaten as a snack or light lunch and are considered a cheap dish, with some places selling this satisfying sandwich for as little as 1.50€!
Portuguese cuisine is famed for its fantastic seafood, and Portuguese cod is one of those quintessential dishes you cannot miss out on if you travel to Portugal! Cod, also known as Bacalhau is available in almost every restaurant in the country. Served in a variety of ways, salt cod, baked cod, fried cod and boiled cod are just some of the hundreds of ways in which this simple white fish is prepared. Most often, cod is served with potatoes and accompanied by traditional Portuguese green wine.
Although a beverage rather than a food, Port is an integral part of Portuguese cuisine. Famously, the city of Porto is where this fortified wine is stored and aged in barrels housed in cellars along the banks of the River Douro. From here, this tasty tipple is exported throughout the world. The grapes that produce port wine are grown in the Douro Valley, upriver from Porto, and many who travel to Portugal relish the opportunity to taste the various port varieties in the wineries of this famous region!