Portugal is responsible for the introduction of a great variety of spices and exotic products into European cuisine.
Eating and drinking still play a great role in the Portuguese way of life. The Portuguese normally take a light breakfast, then, mid morning, they have a break for a ‘Meia de leite’ (coffee with milk) and then lunch, consisting of a starter, main course and dessert. Mid afternoon is time for tea or coffee with a toast or sweet and dinner is usually three courses.
The starter is usually a soup (winter time) or a salad (during summer); the main course is meat or fish garnished with potatoes, rice or vegetables and the dessert is usually cake or fruit. To finish the meal there is usually a small coffee which is called ‘bica’, ‘café’, ‘cimbalino’ or ‘espresso’, depending on the area of Portugal.
Fish is very popular in the coastal resorts and meat is more common inland, although everywhere in Portugal you can find the ‘bacalhau’ (salted codfish) cooked in different ways. It is said that there are 365 recipes for ‘bacalhau’.
Some specialities and wines according to the region:
- ‘Caldo Verde’ (soup)
- ‘Rojoes’ (pork meat)
- ‘Polvo’ (Octopus)
- ‘Cabrito assado’ (roasted kid).
- Wines: The famous Port; ‘Vinho Verde’ (Green wine, red or white) and Douro wines, red and white.
- ‘Leitao a Bairrada’ (Suckling pig)
- ‘Caldeirada’ (different sorts of fish cooked with rice)
- ‘Sardinhas’ (Sardines)
- ‘Cozido a Portuguesa’ (different sorts of meat boiled with cabbage, potatoes and rice).
- Wines: Red and white from Bairrada & Dão and sparkling wine from Lamego and Anadia.
- 'Peixe espada' (sword fish)
- 'Mexilhões, Amêijoas, Ostras' (mussels, clams & oysters)
- 'Ensopados de cabrito' (Kid stews).
- Wines: Red & White from Colares; Bucelas; Setúbal; Algarve and “Borba” the most famous wine from Alentejo.
The most popular and famous pastry in Portugal is ‘Pasteis de Nata’ or ‘Pasteis de Belem’ as it is known in Lisbon - a small custard tart.