There are a lot of reasons to go on holiday in Portugal, but the food really is something that draws people to the country year after year. It doesn’t matter if you are a bit of a foodie, or you prefer simpler dishes that you’re familiar with, Portugal has something to offer you. There really is something for everything in Portugal, even fussy eaters and those with very advanced palettes. It’s a place where you will find a whole host of international and local dishes, and every eating establishment offers a whole host of delicious dishes morning, noon and night. However, Portugal really stands out on the food front when it comes to local cuisine. Below, we have taken a look at some of the top foods this part of the world is known for.
What is Portuguese Cuisine Famous For?
If there is one thing to know about food in Portugal, it’s that seafood plays a big part. Portuguese cuisine is famous for its seafood, this is because a lot of the country is located on the coast. You can explore the Algarve without being too far away from the sea, so it makes sense that a lot of local restaurants will be taking advantage of fresh catches. You will be hard pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer seafood of some kind, and some even focus their attention on it entirely. Of course, seafood is not the only thing that has made its cuisine so popular.
The Portuguese are known for their love of pork and cured ham, which is great if you are someone who enjoys charcuterie style meals and eating a lot of meat. The pork and cured ham in Portugal is flavourful and high quality, and it’s used in a number of different ways. You will find pork and ham used in sandwiches and cold dishes, as well as warm dishes and main meals. There’s also a lot for vegetarians and non meat eaters in Portugal, such as their many different types of breads and pastries. Pastel de Nata – a common custard tart eaten throughout the country – is the most popular of Portugal’s sweet treats, but there are a whole host of other options to enjoy.
How Did Portuguese Cuisine Develop?
Portuguese cuisine is a combination of local ingredients and foreign influences, which is why it’s so varied and interesting. The country has been influenced by the cultures of many different countries including the Romans, Jews and the British over the years, and aspects of each can be found in the food the locals like to enjoy. There are many dishes that have been influenced by other cultures coming into contact with Portugal over the years, which is why Portugal is a country that has such a wide range of cuisine options. It’s not boxed in or limited in any way, and Portugal really embraces the flavours and ingredients of others.
Popular Portuguese Dishes You Should Try
Going to a restaurant in Portugal is an enjoyable activity, especially as there are bound to be a number of dishes for you to try. However, this might actually leave you with too much choice. To help you out, and to help you narrow down your options, we have listed some of the main Portuguese dishes to try during your time in the Algarve.
Caldo Verde – Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese dish, and it’s one of the most iconic dishes of the region. It comes from a place in the north of the country, and it’s a type of soup. It’s especially popular in the winter, when it will warm you up and protect you from the cold, though you will find it being served at other times. It’s a green soup made with dark green cabbage, an ingredient that’s hard to find outside of Portugal, and is similar to kale. Potato puree, sausage and local olive oil also feature heavily in the dish.
Sardines – Sardines are a big part of Portuguese cuisine, and they can be eaten in a number of ways. Sardinhas Asadas are a popular choice in the summer, which translates to grilled sardines. Walking through the streets of Portugal, you will smell the delicious aromas of grilled sardines. There’s even a sardine festival called the Festas de Sardinha.
Bacalhau – Another traditional part of Portuguese cuisine is bacalhau, a dish made using Portuguese codfish. A quick Google will tell you that there are hundreds of ways to prepare this dish, and so it varies a lot from region to region. It’s a simple dish, and it’s a great way to explore the seafood side of Portugal.
Bifanas – This dish is the national sandwich of Portugal, and you won’t struggle to get your hands on one. Bifanas are pork sandwiches and they can be found throughout the entire country, even as far down as the Algarve. The main ingredient in Bifanas is pork marinated in paprika, garlic and white wine. It’s then nestled between two bits of crunchy white bread; soft on the inside, hard on the outside. You’ll often find bifanas served with soup or fries.
Piri Piri Chicken – If you’re a fan of chicken, then you will love the piri piri chicken available throughout Portugal. Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, explorers from Portugal travelled along the coast of Africa and discovered a whole host of spices, including a spicy chilli pepper known as piri piri. This quickly developed into one of the main dishes that Portugal is known for. It’s usually served with fries and a side salad.
What Meals Do People in Portugal Enjoy?
The Portuguese typically eat three large meals a day, as you would find elsewhere in Europe. People tend to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is usually light and consists of coffee or tea with bread or cereal, milk or yoghurt and fruit. This is what you will find in most countries, and Portugal doesn’t stray too far from the norm. Of course, you can expect the bread and fruit to be extremely fresh.
For the Portuguese, lunch is usually a full meal that includes soup or salad, breads, meats, vegetables and cheese. Again, this isn’t completely out of the ordinary, but a lot of Portuguese residents choose to have lunch as their main meal of the day. It’s likely to be filling, large and designed to fill you up until dinnertime. Dinner is usually lighter than lunch but still includes similar ingredients.