What is Portuguese food anyways?
This was the question I asked myself almost immediately after we booked our plane tickets for Porto. I was intimately familiar with Spanish, Italian, even French food, but for some reason Portuguese food was big old blank.
I’m not sure why Portuguese food doesn’t get the same sort of fanfare as other western european cuisines, because everything we ate during our week in Portugal was exceptionally tasty. I learned that Portuguese food is rich and varied, with a few constants mixed in. I couldn’t sum it up in a single article, no matter how hard I tried, so instead I decided to tell you about 7 iconic and delicious dishes you absolutely must try if you visit Portugal:Bacalhau
I never knew how important a single fish could be to a countrie’s cuisine until I learned about bacalhau. Salted cod forms the basis for hundreds of different Portuguese dishes, and its ubiquitous in both supermarkets and restaurants.
Not being a huge fish fan, I was a bit intimidated to try bacalhau for myself, so I went for these bacalhau fritters (I mean, anything is good if you fry it enough) and they were quite tasty!Alheira and Morcilla
Two kinds of sausage that are common appetizers in Portugal. Alheira is very unique and was invented by the Jews during the Portuguese Inquisition (which I’m guessing was just as ugly as the Spanish version). It’s made with any meat that’s not pork, sometimes several different kinds mixed together along with bread crumbs. As such the texture is a bit different than traditional sausages. It’s a bit crumbly and nutty tasting, and usually served fried.
Morcilla you may be more familiar with. It’s essentially blood sausage (an obsession of mine). In Portugal they typically slice it thin and fry it up so that it’s both crunchy and juicy. Even if you don’t think you like blood sausage, it’s worth a try.Queijo
Portuguese cheese is super delicious, but not well known outside of the country, so you will of course want to try it at every opportunity. It’s usually served as an appetizer or side, not integrated with the main meal.
Most cheese in Portugal is made with sheep or goats milk which gives it a rich, nutty flavor. There are 15 official varieties, usually coming from specific regions of the country like in Italy.Prego no Pao
Mike and I got hungry while watching a football game at the local bar one night, and the only item on the menu was this simple steak sandwich. It was absurdly delicious: thin steak pounded with garlic and served with onions on a crusty bun. Best of all: unlike literally any meat I have ever had in Europe, this steak was served rare! I later found out a popular bar snack around the country.Francesinha
Another popular sandwich option is the Francesinha. Unlike the sandwich above, this one is extravagant as hell, and best served in the city that invented it- Porto.
Each restaurant makes theirs a little differently but the basics are a sandwich made of ham, steak or sausage (or some combination), covered with melted cheese and a tomato-beer sauce. Usually fries come alongside for sopping up the mess. It’s a monster, messy, food challenge kind of thing, best taken when you are super-duper hungry. Mike and I split the one above which was served in a soup bowl.Arroz de Pato
A lot of Portuguese main meals are very meat and potato centric, but duck rice is also popular and common. It’s simply fragrant rice cooked with shredded roast duck and chorizo. It’s similar to Chinese fried rice in it’s consistency and appeal, but the flavors are more rustic. Portuguese comfort food I imagine.
When I ordered this at a restaurant a humongous serving dish was brought out and the food was scooped directly onto my plate.Pastéis de Nata
Portugal is a country with excellent pastries (trust me, I would know), but none stand out quite as much as their national pastry, the pastél de nata. A small tart made mainly with egg yolk custard, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Biting into one is a revelation: the top is crispy, the inside is creamy and the crust is chewy. Their rich, but small, simple but obsession forming.
I could write a love letter to these little egg tarts. Over the course of our time in Portugal Mike and I became absolutely obsessed with them, seeking them out 2, even 3 times a day. It’s a good thing we left when we did, otherwise I’d probably be surviving on nothing but pastéis de nata now.
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 200mm
Exposure Time 1/400
In addition to being very remote, St. Helena is also very rugged. It is not uncommon for people to have a commute to work which travels as much vertically as it does horizontally.
The capital of the island, Jamestown, is located at the bottom of a valley which ends at the sea. However, the largest residential area is in a flat area on top of one of the cliffs above Jamestown called Halftree Hollow. While there is a (winding) road you take to the top, you can also walk up steep flight of stairs called Jacob’s Ladder.
The record for climbing all 699 steps is held by Graham Doig who climbed the stairs in 5 minutes, 16.78 seconds. He used his feet and hands to achieve the record.
I have to confess, I am nearing the end of my rope. The past couple months have been extremely travel heavy. While it’s been so much fun running around Portugal, London and Vancouver among other places, I am well worn out. It’s been such a busy (but wonderful) couple of months for Mike and I personally and professionally. I’ve never been so excited to head home.
Fortunately, I have the entire month of July to enjoy Seattle’s glorious summertime. I’ve got local adventures planned, friends coming to visit, and plenty of work to keep me busy before my mom and I go to Alaska the first week of August. Plus a LOT of photo editing and writing to catch up on.How are your summer travel plans coming along? My Work
What I do when I’m not here and not gorging on poutine.
A Guide to the San Diego Beer Scene– Trivago
The Foodie Guide to Jasper, Alberta– RoamRight
Girlfriend’s Getaway to Maui- RoamRight
Must read content from around the web:
No I Do Not Need My Husband’s Permission to Travel Alone– To Europe & Beyond– Preach it Marie.
Why I Don’t Carry on My Luggage- Adventurous Kate- Preach it Kate
You Don’t Have to be a Privileged White Girl to Travel– This American Girl– Sometimes I worry that the travel blogging sphere isn’t diverse enough, so this is a great resource for hearing some alternate voices.
Confessions of an Overweight Female Traveler- Savoir Fair Abroad– Speaking of alternate voices…
How to Work Full-tim and Still Travel the World– Megano Travels– I never get tired of hearing how people make this work.
A Few Tips for Successful Cooking in Vacation Rental Kitchens– The Kitchn– Just got back from a rental apartment in Vancouver and these are spot on.
10 Rubbish Travel Tips you Should Ignore– The Globe Wanderers– and finally a little reminder not to believe everything you hear.What’s the Best Thing You’ve Read This Month?
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 80mm
Exposure Time 1/800
On my 2014 photo trip with G Adventures we visited South Africa and spent 2 days in Kruger National Park photographic wildlife. On our second day we say the Big 5 before lunch!
I could spend a week just photographing wildlife in Africa. It is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done as a photographer and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the continent.