Within the food industry there are often food trends that come and go; one minute everyone is talking about sushi and the next they’re wanting home cooked pies and a cosy meal. The latest food to rise in popularity is the food of Portugal. Portuguese food isn’t often spoken about in the same way that people talk about other foods. In fact, until recently you may not have some across Portuguese food at all. However, that is all changing.
It’s difficult for me to say exactly why Portuguese food has become popular as of late, but I could link it to the fact that Latin American and Spanish chefs have been dominating the culinary elite with chefs like Virgilio Martinez of Peru, Alex Atala of Brazil and Ferran Adria of Spain leading the charge. It was only a matter of time before the trendsetters and culinary elite looked at Portugal after all a firm favourite is this world is the brilliant Nuno Mendez. You could also argue that the consumers are likely to be bored of eating the same things again and again. For many years the top culinary countries have been Italy, Thailand, Chinese, Mexico and India. So, it isn’t shocking that there’s something new on the horizon.
Before a new type of food gains popularity, a lot of people find that they don’t know what it involves. So, if you’re not sure what Portuguese food is or why it’s so great, you won’t be the only one. Portuguese food for one, is delicious. It’s all about fresh ingredients, delicious sides and meals that will really hit the spot. Fish is used a lot in Portuguese food and salted cod (Bacalhau) is a big favourite, as are prawns and sardines. If you’re not a fan of fish, you needn’t worry. The Portuguese are also big on potatoes, olives, rice and pork.
A brilliant export from Portugal to The Netherlands is A Loja Portuguese run by the charming and exuberant Tomas Furtado. It’s a cute little deli near Vondel Park that sells savoury items, wine, pastry and more.
When it comes to dessert, it’s all about pastries, and a delicious pastel de nata which is a rich custard filling nestled into a crispy layers of puff pastry. Where I live in Amsterdam I’m privileged to have met a lady called Isabel Pinto that runs a company called Ogisa do Porto that has the best Pastel de nata in the Netherlands, the depth of hers reach a creaminess to admire.
Here are my 5 food or drink items I’d recommend you start with;
- Cozido a Portuguesa : The Portuguese love a stew and this is a meat bomb
- Polvo a Lagarerio : I love octopus and this slow cooked garlicky version is a must for you seafood lovers.
- Clams Bulhao Pato : Perfect snack to go with an ice cold Portuguese craft beer from Duque
- Medronho aka Firewater : Is a 48% fruit brandy made from a strawberry like tree and uber local, so local you may not find much in supermarkets at all as its bought bootlegged style it directly from the farmers who make it who most likely don’t have a license to sell it – be warned!
- Franchesina : Originally from Porto this super freaked up version of a croque monsieur is a real belly buster. Made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with French fries.
It’s Not Just About Portuguese Food…
However, it’s not just Portuguese food that’s becoming popular as more and more people are heading to Portugal on holidays and weekend breaks; in this case, Lisbon is the place to head. Lisbon has a lot to offer a tourist; there’s beaches galore (some excellent for surfing), cultural sites and a great deal of shopping locations. Plus, the weather is fantastic.
As a capital, Lisbon is relatively quiet and this provides a great atmosphere. It’s lively without being overwhelming, bustling without being busy and close to home without being on your doorstep. My sources tell me that Lisbon has a certain feel reminiscent of Berlin, which scores highly in my book.
As you can see, Lisbon and the entire Portuguese culture has a lot to offer and therefore it’s not surprising that Portuguese food has caught on as a trend.