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History & Culture of Portugal - Part 15

Portuguese Food and WinePart 15. Portuguese Food and Wine. Despite being relatively restricted to an Atlantic sustenance, Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean influences. Portuguese cuisine is famous for seafood, and the Portuguese are among the nations that consume more fish in the world, per capita.

The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is also notable, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers), white pepper and black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla, paprika, clove, allspice, cumin and saffron. Cinnamon, clove and allspice are not only saved for desserts, unlike in other European cuisines, but are also added to many savoury Portuguese dishes.

Paprika, piri piri, garlic, bay leaf, white pepper, clove and cinnamon are the most common spices used in Portuguese cuisine. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine, which is used both for cooking and flavouring meals, raw.
Garlic is widely used, as are herbs, such as bay leaf, coriander, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley, being the most prevalent. Portugal is the largest consumer of rice in all of Europe and different types of rice are grown abundantly in the Alentejo region.

Portuguese influences are strongly evident in Brazilian cuisine, and can be tasted in the Chinese territory of Macau and in the Indian province of Goa such as vindalho, show the pairing of vinegar, chilli pepper and garlic. Tempura was introduced to Japan by early Portuguese missionaries.

Cheese – Queijo
Azeitao – sheep cheese just south of Lisbon
Serra – strongest sheep & goat cheese from Serra da Estrela
Cabra Transmontano – hard salty goat cheese
Nisa – sheep cheese from Alentejo
Rabacal – Coimbra sheep & goat cheese
Sao Jorge – spicy cow cheese from Azores
Requeijao – soft, spreadable cow cheese

Wine – Vinho
Red, white and "green" wine is the traditional Portuguese drink, the rosé variety being popular in non- Portuguese markets and not particularly common in Portugal itself.

Vinho verde, termed "green" wine, can be red, white or rosé, only produced in the north-western (Minho province) and refers not to the colour of the drink but to the fact that this wine needs to be drunk "young". A "green wine" should be consumed as a new wine while a "maduro" wine usually can be consumed after a period of ageing. Green wines are usually slightly sparkling.

Port wine is a fortified wine of distinct flavour produced in Douro, which is normally served with desserts. Port is actually a British phenomenon, not Portuguese. Because Britain isn't suitable for growing grapes, its citizens traditionally imported wine from France. But during wars with France (17th and 18th centuries), Britain boycotted French wine and looked elsewhere. At that time Portuguese wines often didn't survive the longer sea journey to England. The port-making process was invented accidentally by a pair of brothers who fortified the wine with grape brandy to maintain its quality during the long trip. The wine picked up the flavor of the oak, which the English grew to appreciate The British perfected port production in the succeeding centuries, hence many ports carry British-sounding names (Taylor, Croft, Graham). In 1703, the Methuen Treaty reduced taxation on Portuguese wines, making port even more popular. In 1756, Portugal's Marquês de Pombal demarcated the Douro region — the first such designation in Europe. From that point on, true "port wine" came only from this region, following specific regulations of production, just as "Champagne" technically refers to wines from a specific region of France. Traditionally, farmers and landowners were Portuguese, while the British bought the wine from them, aged it in Porto, and handled the export business.

Vinho da Madeira, is a regional wine produced in Madeira, similar to sherry. The British seizure of John Hancock's sloop the Liberty on May 9, 1768, after he had unloaded a cargo of 25 casks of Madeira wine, resulted in a dispute over import duties. The seizure of the Liberty caused riots to erupt among the people of Boston.

Other regions – D ão (Mondego and Dao rivers), Alentejo, Bairrada (between Dao mountains and Atlantic) , Colares (between Lisbon and Sintra) Portugal is the world's largest producer (52.5%) of natural wine corks,derived from the bark of cork oak trees. The majority of Portugal's production is in the region of Alentejo, 72% of national production. 68% of all cork is produced for wine bottle stoppers.

Local specialities
Açorda – Alentejo old bread mashed with garlic, coriander, vinegar and eggs
Alcatra – marinated beef in red wine, garlic and spices, roasted in a clay pot
Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato – clams in white wine from Lisbon
Bica – small espresso coffee
Caldeirada de enguias – eel stew from Aveiro
Carne de porco à alentejana – fried pork with clams
Cataplana de marisco – Algarve seafood feast (cataplana is a copper pot)
Chanfana – goat cooked in red wine, paprika, white pepper
Feijoada – bean stew with pork from Tras-os-Montes
Iscas – fried liver, from old Lisbon taverns
Posta mirandesa – tenderloin from Tras-os-Montes
Sopa de cacaco – Alentejo coriander soup
Tripas a moda do Porto – tripe with white beans

Ameijoas com alho – clams (also Bulhao Pato com vinho branco)
Arroz de tamboril – Monkfish stew, with tomato, rice, garlic
Alheira (de Mirandela) – sausage of garlic and non-beef (Jewish invention 1497)
Bacalhau (a bras) – dried, salted cod (fried potatoes, onions, eggs)( 365+ ways to cook)
Bifanas – sandwiches, marinated pork with spices
Caldo verde – vegetable soup (+ chourico – spicy sausage)
Caldeirada – fish stew
Chicken Piri-Piri – (Piri-Piri – African devil) sold in churrascarias
Cozido à portuguesa – winter stew
Francesinha – Porto sandwich to make “The heart sing”. Ham, sausage, steak,
(“little French girl”) cheese & egg, with a unique francesinha sauce (tomato/beer)
Moelas – Chicken Gizzards
Peixinhos da horta – green beans, squash or peppers, breaded and fried ==> tempura
Polvo a la Lagareiro – Octopus in olive oil, served with potatoes
Porco Preto – Black pork, Cured ham from the raça Alentejana pigs
Sardinhas Assadas – grilled sardines
Vinho d'alhos – wine marinaded pork

Egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, almonds (egg whites used to starch priests' clothing)
Pastel de Nata – sweet & creamy egg tart, served warm with bica...
Pastel de Tentúgal – sweet & creamy egg pastry wrapped in thin dough
Queijadas de Sintra
Tibias de Braga
Sericaia (Alentejo)
Pao de Lo – sponge cake
Toucinho do ceu – almond cake (“Bacon from heaven”) from Guimares region
Travesseiro - puff pastry with a filling of almond cream.

Read other parts of this series HERE.

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