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Leitão assado à Bairrada: And, the town build on roasted pig

Leitão assado à Bairrada, Bairrada roast suckling pig is one of the best-known regional dishes in Portugal, and was named one of the 7 Culinary Wonders of Portugal.



Although Romans already appreciated roasted pig, the oldest document that refers to Leitão is a convent record from 1743 that  described a recipe that is pretty much the current dish.

Several towns in the Bairrada region claim Leitão. It is in the towns of Aveiro, Anadia, Agueda, Oliveira do Bairro, Cantanhede, but also in the northern area of Coimbra, that the tradition of roast Leitão more is a way of life, employing thousands of people. Along the EN 1, between Coimbra and Anadia dozens and dozens of restaurants are dedicated to this typical dish. And today, there is a thriving culinary tourism route that brings this tasty dish to the lunch tables of thousands every weekend. 


And then there is Mealhada - a town of some 4,000 people that may have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else- this is a town built on the tradition of Leitão. In fact if you ask most Portuguese to word-associate "Leitão" the reply might be "Mealhada." More than 30 eateries line what was once the main road between Lisbon and Porto - and almost all of them specialize in roast suckling pig - or Leitão assado à Mealhada. Try it with salad and crispy fried potatoes. And what wine to go with rich and tender Leitão? Espumante de Bairrada - a sparkling red wine, grown locally - and the perfect compliment to this mighty meal.




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