Introduction to Portuguese Cuisine

Visiting a new country also means getting acquainted with new gastronomy. So when my travel buddy visited Portugal with me for the first time in the summer of 2018, his tastebuds worked overtime. Welcome to the country of olive oil, spices, and seafood!

Grilled Swordfish

I know that I have featured this picture before, but grilled swordfish is one of my favorite Portuguese dishes ever! Portugal is actually the country where I discovered this kind of fish and it’s even better on the island of Madeira. Cod and sardines, however, are by far the most popular fish. Anyway, grilled (sword)fish is usually served with fried potatoes and a salad. And lots of olive oil!

Piri Piri Chicken

Piri Piri is a kind of chili and the combination with chicken is a classic in Portugal. Don’t worry if you don’t like spicy food; this dish is more aromatic than hot. This is actually one of the very few meat dishes that I had in Portugal.

Cataplana

Cataplana is actually the copper pan that resembles a clam in which this dish is prepared. It comes in a lot of varieties depending on the seafood and/or fish (even eel) that is used. It can be served with fresh coriander and usually also contains garlic, white wine, onions, and tomatoes.

Caldeirada

If you can’t get enough of seafood, then you should also try caldeirada, a fish and seafood stew with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, topped with bread. To die for!

Deep-fried seafood and tomato rice

And When the Kitchen Is Closed…

…the waiter improvizes: black olives, roasted red peppers, cured cheese and white beans with tuna. A refreshing late lunch.

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Mastering the Art of Eating Tapas

If you have ever been to Spain and you made an effort to taste the local cuisine – and let’s face it, you should, you have probably heard about tapas. And maybe you even tasted them as well. If not and you really don’t know what to expect, here is a short guide.

Origin

The word “tapa(s)” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar”, which means “to cover”. This could be associated with the fact that innkeepers used to show their guests samples of their food on a pot cover. But it could also refer to the habit of covering a drink with a slice of bread and a topping to keep insects away.

Nowadays, a tapa is a cold or warm snack that usually accompanies an alcoholic drink (especially beer and wine). In the south of Spain, tapas are included in the price of the beverage, although in touristy areas they tend to charge for it, usually between 1,50 and 2 euro. It’s custom that the waiter chooses the tapa for you – which enables you to discover the local specialties, but there are lots of places where the customer can (also) choose himself.

It’s easy to combine various tapas to a complete meal, which is what we usually do. We hardly ever go to restaurants here because tapas bars are so much cheaper. Going from tapas bar to tapas bar is called tapear and it’s a habit that we have taken over from the locals. By the way, tapas can be extended to a media ración (half a meal) or a ración (full meal), which you usually share with your friend(s) and is an even cheaper option.

Nowadays, we live in Churriana de la Vega, not far from Granada. Gone are the menus in English, because this is certainly not a place for expats! But the advantage is that you learn many new words and get to taste a lot of new local food. By the way, kitchens here usually close between 16.30 and open again around 20.00. And be sure to ask for the tapa(s) of the day! It’s the best way to discover new food!

Classics and Favourites

Maybe not the most typical Spanish dish, but most of the tapas bars that we frequent serve this: a juicy burger! I usually start my tapear with this one. By the way, Spanish pork is of very good quality.

It’s very hard to see, but this sandwich hides a thin slice of fried chicken breast and is very popular with the locals.

Toast with artichoke hearts and anchovy.

A ración of anchovy with olive oil and olives.

A ración of grilled calamaritos (small squid).

A classic: tortilla with potatoes. You can find this easily in supermarkets.

Fried cod is another classic, best to be eaten with some olive oil.

This is by far my big favorite: albondigas, meatballs usually served with tomato sauce.

Shrimps come in all sizes. And all of them are so tasty…

Sausages marinated in white wine and fried with onions.

A refreshing potato salad, cheese and a variation on ensaladilla rusa (boiled potatoes, tuna, olives, and mayonnaise).

On the menu of the day, pork stew with potatoes and green beans.

If you want to see more pictures of tapas, better check out my Instagram feed!

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