Life in Portugal: Explore the Portuguese Cuisine

    Food plays an important role in Portuguese culture. The country’s cuisine is characterized by rich, full flavored dishes made with fresh ingredients. The national dish is “bacalhau” (salted codfish). Moorish and Mediterranean influences have given the Portuguese cook the best textures and flavors to work with. Traditional dishes include Portuguese paella, rosemary and lemon pork stew, Cozido à Portuguesa, bacalhau no churrasco, and caldo verde (green broth).

    History of Portuguese Cuisine

    Some of the most popular Portuguese dishes date back to the 15th century when Prince Henry the Navigator ordered his people to bring to Portugal any plants, exotic fruits, and nuts from the New World. Spices and herbs like ginger, pepper, paprika, saffron, and curry were introduced by explorers into Europe and became part of the Portuguese cuisine. Other key ingredients include perceves (gooseneck barnacles), caracois (snails), swordfish, seafood, potatoes, tomatoes, and corn.

    Traditional Portuguese Dishes

    The Portuguese cuisine uses simple ingredients, with an emphasis on fish. Most dishes contain a wide range of spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and piri piri (a spicy chili pepper). If you are planning to move to this country, it is important that you learn more about life in Portugal and explore the local cuisine. Each region has its own bacalhau specialty. It is said that this fish can be cooked in 365 different ways. High quality Portuguese olive oil is an essential ingredient to all bacalhau recipes.

    In Portugal, breakfast consists of milk or coffee and bread roll with cheese, ham, butter, or jam. Breakfast cereals and sweet pastries are also popular. Lunch is the most important meal of the day and lasts over on hour. Dinner is usually served late in the evening. The most popular desserts are caramel custard and rice pudding. This European country has a well developed fishing industry and this is reflected in the amount of seafood and fish eaten. Fish is served fried, deep-fried, boiled, grilled, roasted, or stewed.

    One of the main national dishes is “cozido à portuguesa,” a stew of different meats and vegetables. It is often served with red wine and olive oil. You can also order “caldeirada,” the Portuguese version of bouillabaisse. If you live in Algarve, you can try the traditional grilled sardines of Portimão or “caparau,” the local species of mackerel. Each region will also have its specific cheese and bread. Trás-os-Montes is famous for its cured meat. In Lisbon, you can try “Pastéis de nata” of Belém, a popular dessert. Read More at

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