Food Culture and Tradition

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Foods Commonly Used in Portugal


Cooking in Portugal is hearty, simple, and distinctively regional. The penchant for fresh ingredients simply prepared is as important in Portugal as it is in Spain. But the Portuguese delight in unusual combinations such as seafood and pork in the same dish, and take pleasure in a stronger use of garlic and the frequent surprise of a stinging hot sauce made with the Brazilian fiery peppers called piripiri.

Dishes of pork, seafoods of all kinds – especially the beloved dried salt cod called bacalao – form the main dishes together with any variety of available vegetables and greens. Every meal is accompanied with bread, whether it is the cornmeal bread called broa in northern Portugal, or the many types of wheat breads in the south. Rice, widely used as a base for other foods, appears well sugared in many dessert dishes. Rich sweets in the forms of puddings, baked custards, imaginative confections and pastries are the specialties of many monasteries and special pastry shops. Each region is proud of its own sweet delights.

Portuguese red wine is abundant and considered so superior to the white that it is consumed with every dish, even fish. In fact, drinking red wine with fish dishes is considered to be a tradition in the Algarve. But the drinking of red wine in no way diminishes the Portuguese love for good coffee which appears after meals and frequently accompanies the many tempting sweets.

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