What a great thing to be known for! When you take your trip to Portugal, make sure you stop by a coffee shop or bakery and grab yourself one of these amazing pastries.
Portugal’s food is as diverse as the country’s history. The country’s location on the Atlantic has a huge influence on the cuisine, but Portugal’s former colonies have also had their contribution with the addition of spices like black pepper, piri piri (small, fiery chilli peppers), saffron, cinnamon, and vanilla. Olive oil, which is used for both cooking and flavoring, is a base of many Portuguese dishes.
The Atlantic influence is found in Portugal’s many fish-based dishes, the most famous of which is bacalhau, or salted cod. Given that each region has its own bacalhau specialty, it’s not surprising that it is commonly said that there are 365 different ways to prepare bacalhau. For example, Porto’s bacalhau à Gomes de Sã is salted cod, olives, and potatoes topped with eggs and onions.
Another meat commonly used in Portugal’s famous foods is pork. A specialty found in central Portugal is leitão, or roast suckling pig. You may also want to try a wine-marinated pork dish garnished with clams called carne de porco à Alentajana. If you’re not really into fish or pork, you can try frango grelhado, a grilled chicken dish seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and piri piri.
Alheira, a sausage served with fried eggs and potatoes, has an interesting history. During the late fifteenth century, Portugal was officially a Christian nation and all Jews were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave the country. King Manuel, however, did not actually want to lose the economic or professional expertise of the Jews. So, when the deadline for leaving the country or converting arrived, he announced that there were no ships available for those refusing to convert. He had men, women, and children baptised by force en masse. In order to not give away their taboo religious affiliation by openly avoiding pork, Portuguese Jews made sausages of chicken and spiced game that only resembled pork. In modern times, the tradition has been broken and alheira often includes pork as an ingredient.
Many Portuguese meals also include some type of soup. In southern Portugal, you can find the popular Gazpacho soup. Made of cucumber, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chillies, and vinegar, this soup is served cold.
Queijo, or cheese, is not an ingredient in most Portuguese recipes. It is often eaten by itself either before or after the main course. Mostly, Portuguese cheeses are made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. The most famous of these, the Queijo de Serra is made in the winter from ewe’s milk coagulated with thistle.
You can’t talk about Portuguese food without touching on their famous desserts. The most popular of these is definitely the Pastel de Nata, or custard tarts. The Antiga Confeitaria de Belém bakery in Belem is the most famous place to get this tasty dessert that is basically an egg custard tart.
Salame de Chocolate translates simply to chocolate salami. Don’t worry, it doesn’t contain any meat. This salami is made from cookies, nuts, butter, dark chocolate, eggs, and port wine.
No matter what kind of food you’re looking for, Portugal can probably supply something to fit the bill.
As one of the hottest places to visit and vacation, the Algarve area of Portugal has a rich and vibrant history. When you next go to the Algarve, take some time to try to notice all the influences from various cultures that have made their mark on this gorgeous area in Europe.
Around 1000 BC
While there is evidence that people inhabited the areas around the Algarve since the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, some of the first documented people to live in this area were the Phoenicians. They established ports all along the the coast in order to trade with others via the water.
Around 550 BC
The port known today as Portimão was founded by the Carthaginians following the time of the Phoenicians. Both the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians subsisted for many, many years solely on the resources they were able to glean from the sea.
The 2nd Century
The Romans came on the scene around this time. You can still see many Roman ruins when you tour through the Algarve. These are typically found near the water.
The 5th Century
Around this time, the Visigoths took control of the Algarve area until the 500 years of Arab rule by the Moors. You can see this evidence in the names of many areas in the Algarve starting with the prefix “al” and in the construction of homes with flat roofs.
Early to Mid 12th Century
Following the reign of the Moors, the Reconquista began. Fighting remained until the Moors were eventually pushed out of the area. At this time was when the area’s name changed from “Al-Gharb” to the Kingdom of the Algarve. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the Portuguese regained control of their own land.
The 15th Century
This was a time in the Algarve’s history where the area truly flourished. A navigation school was set up, and many sea voyages left from Portuguese ports. Portugal became a major imperial power due to all their journeys.
The Lisbon earthquake hit this year, followed by a massive tsunami. The devastation from the natural disasters severely hurt the Algarve, and many areas suffered from irreparable damage. Although the epicenter of the earthquake was close to the Algarve, the tsunami actually caused more damage.
Other than a brief period in 1807 and 1808 when Portugal was occupied by Spanish troops, the Algarve has been a relatively autonomous and peaceful area. Despite any misfortune that came their way, the people of the Algarve have always remained warm and friendly, making this a great area to visit.