And this is what we love to eat
We Portuguese people are weird. Who hasn’t heard about girls wearing their mustaches as if they were in the 50’s, boys flirting with them in the middle of the street, grandmas staring at the show from their windows whilst cuddling their well fed cats. All very true. In the movies. In real life, we’re a bit more exciting and creative, specially when it comes to food.
Actually, you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to eat awkwardly amazing foods, that would make asian street food look like vegan banana bread. Today we will be introducing you to five amazing foods Portuguese people love to eat – or talk about whilst they eat something else. Please make yourself comfortable, and enjoy the ride.
Did you just say snails?
Cliches apart, Portugal is also famous for its beautiful beaches, sunny days, warm people and slow food. In the later category, we can find not only amazing stews and rices but a more literal type of slow food: snails. Yes, snails. Think of a more chilled version, compared to the french escargots, full of oregano and sauce, so you can eat it all till the very last bit, with the help of a large bread chunk – not for the faint-hearted or gluten intolerant.
Lupines our way all the way
Who hasn’t tried snacking on lupins, please raise the hand. If you haven’t, summertime in Portugal is the perfect time for you to do so. We Portuguese love long warm days, where we can simply linger on a terrace, eating our delicious, and salty, tremocos. They are usually served on small plates we say pires, and are best enjoyed whilst drinking a glass of vinho verde (vinho, not vino) or cold imperial (half-pint). Still not keen? They are 100% vegan, gluten and dairy free and a great source of protein. We thought so.
Do you understand?
Whilst in Portugal, don’t miss out chance of going to a fishmongers or local market, where you can still get the catch of the day for a decent price and also get to know how seafood looks like when it is not packed – it is also much more sustainable than average supermarket fish. Here we love all-things-fishy, even their ancestors, like percebes aka understandings. Do you understand? Nevermind, google it, order it, and you will learn how to eat them very quickly – they basically pop out of the shell without a big effort. Our pleasure.
Mackerel’s baby cousin
If you love fish, like us, you would not want to miss out mackerel baby’s version, which is not only legal but a rare delicacy – don’t you worry, our fishermen love the oceans as much as we do. Says the legend that Jaquinzinhos got their name in Sesimbra, after a bad day of fishing, when a local fisherman caught these tiny meckerrels, uncle Joaquim’s size – apparently he was a very small man. We love Jaquinzinhos so much, they have become a national cultural and ethnographic mark, due to the way they are caught. You will find them fried on a gentle batter or alimados, meaning in lemon, olive oil and salt. YUM.
Peixinhos da horta
Portuguese Green Beans Tempura
Brave by nature, we portuguese love a Descobrimentos story, meaning a story from the Discoveries period. Our lovely navigators António da Mota, Francisco Zeimoto e António Peixoto were following a Chinese ship to Macau and, surprise, they’ve arrived in Japan by azar in 1543. Lucky them, who were very well received by the Nippons, and ended up trading and sharing amazing recipes like our peixinhos da horta – that literally means fish from the garden. And, voilá, tempura was born.
Fun fact 1: Tempura comes from the latin word ‘tempora’, which was related to a fasting period in monasteries, where the consumption of meat was reduced and replace by fish – or veggies.
Fun fact: 2: A similar story goes for leg frogs, but we spare you from that one this time, as first we would have to decide who have started eating them first: the Britons or the French.
Arroz de cabidela
Translation only available whilst you’re reading it
Last but not least, dear friends, we have cabidela rice. Cabidela rice, meaning rice cooked with the blood of the animal which the plate is named after – which obviously needs extra care when preserving, with a lot of vinegar. Apparently it is such a delicacy, we took it to our colonies, from Africa do Asia. Today you can find chicken cabidela (Angola), duck cabidela (Macau) or even pork (India). So many delicious options you don’t want to miss out.
And that’s it for today, our friends. Next time you invite a portuguese person out, don’t propose a trip to far the East. The wild west starts right here.
Your Lisbon Cooking Academy Team