Well, here we go! Food defines a nation -, Italy has pasta, England fish and chips, Chicago deep-dish pizza, but what about Portugal?
Once a neophyte said that Portuguese food is comfort food- and that is a load of potatoes.
Like and major European culture, Portugal’s food is not frozen in time and place – it is growing evolving and embracing the best of 800 years of flavors, with new thinking – and now it is spreading to the U.S. – and we though we would offer you this handy guide on where to find Portuguese cuisine, west of Santa Cruz das Flores.
Portuguese cooking: the basics:
Historically, one of the staples Portuguese meals is bacalhau--a dried, salted cod eaten throughout Portugal. In fact, they say that there are 365 different ways to make cod, one for each day of the year. But those ways vary north to south, east to west.
In the north, visitors will find rich dark "broa" bread is also common across the north, adding richness and complexity to even the simplest meal. The northeast corner of the country is famous for its smoked hams, called "presunto", and for delectable handmade sausages
The Centro de Portugal Region, set between Porto and Lisbon, is home to platters of octopus rice and "chanfana" – goat meat stewed with wine. All of Portugal produces outstanding artisan cheeses, but the country’s crowning jewel is the rich sheep’s cheese known as "queijo da Serra", from this region's Estrela Mountains. Other great cheeses that turn up in dishes are from Sabugal and Rabaçal.
The wide-open Alentejo Region and the coastal Algarve Regions each have their own distinct way of cooking. Bread crumbs, or migas, rich sausages and dark hams are popular in Alentejo. The Algarve also specializes in spicy, grilled seafood. And, marinated carrots are a popular starter.
On Portugal's Madeira Island favorite dish is "milho frito," which is fried cubes of polenta served are a real favorite as is skewers of local beef or fish.
In the Azores, lapas (a shellfish), croques (a small mollusk unique to the Azores), are local specialties. Chili peppers and paprika are local sources of pride, and fine beef – from the cattle grazing on the islands – is often served grilled or roasted in a wine sauce. And, fresh cheese, corn bread, and chicharros – a small fish, in an onion sauce a favorite appetizer.
Speaking of the Azores - foods that are commonplace in New England kitchens are also uniquely Azorean: Portuguese sweet bread, Portuguese muffins, red pepper paste, kale soup and linguiça sausage all hail from the islands. And, many bakeries now feature “mealhada rolls” or Portuguese bread!
So, check with your friends or in your yellow pages for some local Portuguese eateries that might exist in your area. Hungry yet?