I love Portugal, it is the half of my heritage I am most in tune with and that my stomach absolutely loves. The food in Portugal is beyond anything you can imagine, rich, flavoursome and hearty, but always feels like a little taste of home. There are a lot of dishes and sometimes going to a restaurant here can feel completely overwhelming, so from a Tuga (Portuguese!) to you all, here is a list of 15 foods you have to eat in Portugal.
1. Churrasco: FIND ANY CHICKEN PLACE ANYWHERE! We are famous for the way we cook chicken, and if you think Nandos is special… just trust me on this one, any churrascaria where you basically get a huge take away chicken, will blow your mind. And be adventurous with your seasoning, after all this might be your only take away chicken in Portugal.
2. Pasteis de Belem: Only THE MOST FAMOUS cakes in the whole country, the original recipe was created by Catholic nuns and is only entirely known by 3 people in the world at any one time. Like a national secret! You can eat the lesser versions, called Pasteis de Nata, anywhere, but for the original ones make your way to Belem, an area of Lisbon, next to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monestry).
3. Ovos moles de Aveiro: Continuing on the streak of desserts, this is one that grew on me as my palate developed throughout the years. Sweet, egg-yolk, wrapped in paper thin wafer in the shape of seashells, these small, romantic bites of heaven hale from Aveiro in the north of the country, and you definitely need to venture there to eat these delicious little bites.
4. Pasteis de bacalhau: The Portuguese devour cod like no other population I have ever met. We also maintain it in quite a special way which makes it incredibly flavoursome. Pasteis de bacalhau are our own version of fishcakes and you must take the opportunity to delight on these.
5. Francesinhas: If you think the French know how to present a ham and cheese sandwich, forget about it! The Portuguese re-invented the entire thing by adding layer after layer of cured meat and then topped it up with a booze and spice filled gravy! This is one for a day in which you don’t plan on eating anything else and it is totally worth it. Travel up north to Porto to revel in one of these masterpieces and get ready to feel the food baby.
6. Polvo a Lagareiro (Octopus): I really cannot discuss Portuguese delicacies without including octopus in a list can I? I am aware it might be an acquired taste, but this is heavenly. Usually it graces Portuguese tables in special occasions and holidays but you are special and you all need to try it!
7. Feijoada: A black bean and meat stew that gets better and better the further north you go. This one will warm you right up in a cold winter’s night and keep you begging for more. It is incredibly filling but also moreish.
8. Queijo da Serra (cheese from Serra da Estrela): If you fancy a bit of hiking before delighting on some amazing cheese, then make your way to Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in the centre of the country. This cheese is made of sheep’s milk and it packs a punch, with its sharp taste and gooey texture.
9. Caldeirada de Peixe: With the amount of fish swimming the Portuguese coast, our brilliant cooks decided to grab everything fish related they could get their hands on, shellfish included, shove it in a pot and BOSH! Fish stew! With fresh herbs and tomatoes to give it some flavour, it is delicious and nutritious.
10. Favas: I know fava beans are green and big and quite ugly looking, but trust me when I say the Portuguese have cracked how to cook these! Mix them up in a stew with pork, chorizo and sausages, season with tomatoes and parsley and it is absolutely divine. Try it if you dare.
11. Torta de Azeitao: The last of the desserts on this list today, this is another dessert in Portugal that is egg based (believe me, most of them are!). A soft, spongey cake with sweet egg yolk spread on top and rolled into a little bite of perfection. Better yet if you make your way to the centre of the country, in the region of Setubal, to eat the stuff in its own town!
12. Arroz de Pato: A simple but delicious dish, it is nothing more than a duck risotto with a crispy surface and Portuguese chorizo in the mix to give it some flavour. It is melt in your mouth meat and texture and truly fantastic.
13. Sardinhas Assadas: This is the last seafood entry on the list, these charcoal grilled sardines are a typical, find it everywhere in the country dish. You can eat it in restaurants, on the street, at festivities, you name it it is there! Served with potatoes, veggies, rice, whatever you fancy we will make it happen.
14. Alheiras de Mirandela: Okay, truth is you can get Alheiras in other places of the country, however the ones in Mirandela (North!) are famous. A classic Portuguese sausage/chorizo, it is made of pork encased in its natural intestine skin and it is delicious. Typically served with a fried egg and fries, forget the calorie counting for this one.
15. Cozido a Portuguesa: Last on today’s list but in absolutely no means least, this is the most traditional dish of the country. It combines every single sausage/chorizo de produce, all the meats from beef, to lamb, to pork and poultry, in one huge dish, served with simply boiled vegetables and potatoes with a delicate string of olive oil on it. This is the epitome of Portuguese comfort food. It is filling, delectable and a great dish to eat in a cold winter’s day. This is the Portuguese Sunday Roast!
There is so much more food in Portugal to try, but this is a list to get you started! Keep an eye out for the beverages/booze you need to try too. I have to say I didn’t realise until I made this list that Portuguese food is so meat heavy, so I apologise in advance if you are a vegetarian, but at least you have cheeses and desserts to try! For now, I leave you here to drool over this incredible food and plan a tour to eat your way across Portugal, my home, my mother land. I hope you have enjoyed this post, please let me know if you would like a few more like this.
For now, keep reading, writing and travelling!
Note: All photos were sourced on Google and they belong to whoever has that copywright.