With its ideal position on the map of Europe, Portugal is rich in flavors, colors, smells, and its beauty is breathtaking.
Portuguese cuisine is diverse. At only 500 miles from the Detroit of Gibraltar, a part of its richness comes from overseas. This is how Portugal introduced coriander, pepper, ginger, curry, saffron and paprika in Europe. That was thanks to Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, in 1498. He discovered the maritime route leading to these valuable spices.
Portugal also introduced Europe to many other exotic products up to then unknown to Europe : rice and tea from Asia, coffee and peanuts from Africa, and pineapples, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes from America.
Half of its territory is a shore, so a lot Portugal’s dishes are Fish and crustaceans specialties.
One of the most amazing and traditional fish in Portugal is “bacalhau”, or dried codfish that has a honorable place on all Portuguese family tables, several times a week. But it’s not the only delicious fish that you can eat there… you would love the sole, the red mullet, the swordfish or the conger eel, as well as the sardine, that is not only one of the most famous fishes of Portugal but also used a lot in Spanish, French and Italian cuisine.
But Portuguese also love meat. They have great specialties such as kebab, lamb, smoked ham. One of the greatest specialties is “chourico”. It’s a smoked and spicy pork sausage.
Also, just like many other countries in Europe, Portugal has delicious cheeses. The most popular would be the “Queijo da Serra”, a sheep cheese. Its taste and consistencies are comparable to the best Bries. We can also eat strong goat cheeses such as the “Queijo da Ilha” or the “cabreiro”. They’re all used in numerous regional dishes.
A lot of the Portuguese sweets are comparable to North African sweets, that are just delicious. This is due to the Moorish occupation in the 15th century.
Finally, the Portuguese wine is the result of a very favorable weather and geography. There are more than one hundred different varieties of wines and a lot of them are well – known by wine lovers.
Overall, if you are looking for a wonderful place to travel and a great place for authentic, flavorful dishes Portugal is for you. If you have never had the chance to try any of the foods mentioned above, please make it one of your priorities… I would start with the seafood, as it holds a dear place in my heart. I love fish and seafood though so if you feel differently, please start where you will… Just be sure to start soon because you may find that they become some of your favorite lifelong dishes.