Portugal’s cuisine is as rich and varied as its landscape. The most distinctive feature of Portuguese cuisine comes from the sea (due to the proximity to the ocean of every parts of the country). But despite being exclusively restricted to an Atlantic coastline, Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean influences. As you enjoy a simple grilled fish, always fresh like the seafood that abounds all year round, you can be sure that you are in Portugal! Cataplanas, bouillabaisses and any other fish or seafood dish are also excellent choices.
In spite of the quality and wealth of the fish market, the Portuguese love meat and they cook it according to the most varied and flavourful recipes. For meat dishes, the main suggestion is cozido ŕ portuguesa, a mix of meats, vegetables and various sausages, cooked in a delicious way. There is also excellent DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) meats, from north to south, whether it’s beef, pork or kid. Many vegetables and fruit also preserve the taste of the old times, and some also have the DOP label, especially as many are produced organically.
Portuguese olive oil is of prime quality and is part of every dish, including cod (for which it is said that there are 1001 recipes!), which they excel at preparing and enjoying.
Each dish is matched to the right wine. The whole country produces wine and, while Port wine is famous, the Douro, Alentejo and many other table wines are no less superior.
And the cheeses! While Queijo da Serra (mountain cheese from Serra da Estrela) tops the bill, all the cheeses from Centro de Portugal, Alentejo and the Azores are delicious.
The sweets, whose roots go back to the many convents where they were originally prepared, even today make us “give thanks to heaven”. And a pastel de nata (custard tart) is a must. It is delicious with coffee, which we drink in the form of espresso.
At the end of a meal, we might make a toast with some Port or Madeira, fortified wines that have been spreading our name to faraway lands for centuries. Or with an excellent sparkling wine produced in Portugal, to celebrate a memorable meal provided by the country’s talented chefs.
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