Here in Portugal, the cuisine is very different from at home. They like their food very salty for instance. They love their meat, which makes it hard for my parents to eat in typical Portuguese restaurants (they're EVERYWHERE). As I said before, their food is so salty. Everything is. Their fish, meat, potatoes, and seafood are all quite salty.
So to do this blog post, I needed some information on the foods. We went to the nearest supermarket called Pingo Doce. Most of the pictures on this blogpost are from there.
Unlike America, the Portuguese have amazing cheeses! They have every kind that you can think of; hard, cured cheeses and fresh, creamy cheeses. Whereas in America, the most common cheese they have is that gross, almost artificial, processed cheese that you put on hamburgers. Personally, I don't like that cheese but, you do what you have to do.
A traditional thing that the I've seen the Portuguese do, is that they cure meat and just leave it hanging out in the open. In the old days, this was great for the winters when they could just take a slice off at any time, rather than eating it all a once. This was good so they did not have to go out and slaughter another animal.
One thing that I've noticed in Portugal is that they totally prefer pork and chicken over beef. The beef, if there is any, is very expensive. They have great chorizo sausages, but some are bad. I've tried 3 different kinds. The first was all black and purple - it was amazing. The second wasn't too good - it had weird chunks of salt in it. The third just was too chewy. The sausages that were the best for me were the ones in restaurants. The first three I cooked at home, so maybe I just cooked them wrong, but anyway, overall I think the Portuguese make great choriço (Portuguese).
The Portuguese adore their fish and seafood EVEN more, I think, than at home. Every restaurant that I've been to so far has at least one item of seafood on their menu. You don't normally see huge slabs of fish just laying around in the open. It's crazy and I'm starting to get sick of it, but I guess we can't change anything because Portugal is Portugal.
Fruits and Juices
The fruits here are your stereotypical tropical fruits. All supermarkets here have an orange juice press, which makes orange juice in front of your eyes in a small amount of time. The juices here are awesome. My favourite here is maracuja, which is passionfruit. The major juice company is Compal. They have a big selection. In every yard that we've stayed in so far, there is an orange tree, mostly for decoration, but Sol and I always pick and eat them.
Another thing that the Portuguese favor is wine and port over beer. 90% of their alcohol in stores is wine and port. When we go on our long bike rides and we're riding through fields, the fields are all vineyards. Port is the national specialty for alcohol. My dad always says, "I can't find any wine that comes from outside of Portugal", so he's okay with the Portuguese wines, but wants some more variety.
Bread and Pastries
This, I think is the biggest thing that I need to cover. Firstly, their average bread is way better than at home, with few exceptions (Matt and Doug). Over here, we have way more of a selection of bread than at an average supermarket in Canada or America.
Secondly, we have the pastries. By far, everyone who has ever been to Portugal will agree that Pastel de Natas (custard filled tarts) are the best food that Portugal produces. The Pastel de Natas are the national specialty. We've noticed that no matter how remote you are or how small the town is, they always have Pastel de Natas. The Portuguese have many unique pastries, but they also have the usual, like pain au chocolat and croissants.
Addendum: [this part written by guest writer, Tracy]. It must be mentioned something about coffee. Coffee here is of one variety only - a single shot of espresso, and always by an espresso machine of one sort or another. It is strong and about a swallow's worth. Brewed coffee is not available. Anywhere. The "Nespresso" (Nestle + espresso = Nespresso) has taken over the home option for making coffee - a small machine one puts in "pods", and with the push of a button, presto! A shot of espresso. Kiki and I, being admitted coffee snobs, are really really missing our coffee back home - good beans, freshly ground made on good machines. And drip coffee - I miss that. Or a French press. Canada's coffee options are awesome.
[Back to Lief] In conclusion, this is not some professional comparison of American and Portuguese, it's just how I, a 13 year old boy who just got to Portugal, perceives it. I think that I've covered the most basic Portuguese diet, and we talked a little bit about how this diet compares to the North American diet. I hope that you have enjoyed this. Tchau!
Post by Lief