A country that worship Sardines…that’s how I could describe Portugal’s gastronomy in one simple sentence. Opening the menu of a restaurant, wandering the tiny streets of Lisbon or entering a souvenir shop you will find yourself surrounded by sardines. Portuguese love their Sardines not only as a source of food but also as a symbol of prosperity, lucky charms being hanged everywhere around the city.
Fresh grilled or canned, it happens to be myself a big fan of Sardines and I cant imagine the world without them. Unfortunately due to excessivefishing but also to the global warming (sardines likes cooler waters) their population have dropped drastically in the last decade but as I am in Portugal during the sardines’s season I make sure not to miss a fresh portion of my favorite dish together with some delicious tapas: olives, cheese and incredibly tasty fish pate.
I must admit that I wasn’t impress by the notorious chefs cooking for Mercado da Ribeira and I decided to stick to the traditional cans of sardines for the future.
Unlike the failed and overpriced sardine dish, I found the Portuguese way of cooking Octopus the best in the world, with minimal ingredients they manage to create a frenzy of flavors that is hard to forget.
Portuguese are big consumer of fish, the third in the world after Iceland and Japan and by fair their favorite seems to be the Bacalhau (Cod fish) which can be prepared in 365 ways, one for each day of the year, including even a dessert…Cod fish pie (Tarte de Bacalhau).
One thing that I couldn’t get used to while in Portugal it’s the traditional way of eating steak. The locals seems to be very found of this dish though, reminding them of childhood when a filling breakfast made of meat, eggs, potatoes and souce would keep their energy up throughout the day.
Pastel de Nata
By far one of the most delicious dessert I have ever tried in my entire life, this egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon can please even the most pretentious taste.
It’s history goes back in time, before the 18th century when the monks of Jeronimo monstary created this delicious dessert using special ingredients and called it Pastel de Belem (the monastery being located in the famous district of Lisbon, Belem). The recipe remaines a mistery until today but the bakeries around the country developed their own way of making this special dessert, usigh similar ingredients.
I am definitely not a fan of ice cream but I couldn’t say NO to this masterpiece of beauty: a flower shaped ice cream topped with macaroons on top…my happiness describes it all.