The Portuguese cuisine
Simplicity is her beauty
Rich in influences and fresh ingredients
The simplicity of the Portuguese cuisine is her beauty. Hardly processed ingredients, prepared on the grill or cooked in typical terracotta or copper cooking pots, and lots of olive oil. This is how you could summarize Portugal's gastronomy.
Many ingredients return in almost every dish, so that this cuisine keeps its typical flavor and remains close to its origin. The ingredients are very varied and arise from the influences that the Romans and Moors left behind in the region. But also a strong contribution of products from the former Portuguese colonies as well as the products from local agriculture are found in taste and ingredients of Portuguese cuisine.
With the Moors, figs, almonds, citrus fruits and other products were included in the list of ingredients used in Portugal. The Romans then brought back olives and other ingredients. Thanks to the great Portuguese navigators such as Vasco de Gama, Portuguese cuisine has also been able to make use of the new flavors and spices that remained still unknown to other European cultures for centuries.
Among the ingredients that are typical for Portugal, you will find coarse golden sea salt with its own, peppery taste, piri-piri, a pepper used in many sauces or when grilling, laurel and of course (a lot of) olive oil.
Of the 1000 available types of available consumption fish kinds, about 300 are for sale in Portugal. Apart from fish, Portuguese cuisine is also very rich in seafood. But Portugal has a lot to offer to meat lovers too. The Minho beef is a unique species in the world and the unique types of goats and sheep of the Serra da Estrela are known among meat (and cheese) enthusiasts.
A saying says that Portugal has as many desserts as there are monasteries. Just as in Belgium every monastery had its own beer, in Portugal every monastery has its own dessert. These desserts are mainly made on the basis of a lot of sugar (also in the form of honey) and egg yolk.
Coffee, always the tastiest in Portugal
Nothing is better than a good cup of coffee, and that is especially true if you are in Portugal. Every coffee lover will confirm that coffee in Portugal is particularly tasty. But why?
Portugal has introduced its coffee tradition as well as the traditional coffee production from Brazil. Cimbali, a high-quality coffee machine from Italy and the first Italian coffeemaker imported in Portugal, was specially adapted to the standards of temperature and water pressure for the Portuguese market and until today, this Italian machine is used almost exclusively throughout Portugal.
During the decades of economic isolation under the Salazar regime, Portugal was only able to import coffee from its colonies. The grains of this coffee were almost always from the Robusta family, which is known for a bitter and strong taste sensation. To date, the Portuguese are looking for this taste sensation in coffee and it is also this bitter taste that makes the difference from an Italian Espresso and a Portuguese bica (also called cimbalino in the north of Portugal).
The term 'bica' is mainly used in Lisbon and the south of the country. BICA stands for B (Beba) I (isto) C (com) A (açucar) or "drink it with sugar"!
The traditional coffee houses in Portugal - such as Delta, Nicola or Tofe, all have a roasting method that differs from the Italian method. The beans are roasted slowly and at lower temperatures in Portugal. The coffee is therefore mixed with a higher water pressure. The Portuguese 'espresso' is also served in a larger cup (30ml) than the Italian espresso (20ml).
The world's best wines are from Portugal
Portuguese viticulture is centuries old: vines were planted far before Christ and the Romans, among others, cultivated their wine in Portugal. Sources indicate that wine has been exported from the Vinho Verde region to England, Germany and Flanders since the 12th century.
Literally vinho verde means 'green wine', because the wine is bottled very young.
Vinho verde is produced in a special way. The winemakers let the grape juice ferment in open stone tubs. Then the wine is stored. During storage, the wine undergoes a second malolactic fermentation during which carbon dioxide is released. This carbon dioxide gives the typical sparkle to the wine. This sparkling wine must be stored in a bottle for at least nine months.
Vinho verde is located in the Rios Minho area of Portugal and stretches from the Douro River to the Minho River, which forms the border with Spain. It is a cool and green region with lots of rain.