Food Culture and Tradition

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Portuguese Food Glossary and Food Terms


Acordas: similar to the migas of Spain, these are bread soups made with bread crumbs or a slice of day-old bread moistened with water or garlic-scented broth. Often served with a poached egg and a sprinkle of freshly, chopped coriander.

Almondegas: seasoned meatballs rolled in flour and browned in oil then simmered in a sauce of browned onions, broth, and chopped parsley. Served with rice and potatoes.

Azeite: strongly flavored olive oil typical of the country

Bacalhau or Bacalao: dried salt cod for which the Portuguese are said to have 365 different recipes, one for each day of the year, each one so enjoyed as to gain the title of a “national dish.”

Batatas a Portuguesa: thinly sliced new potatoes browned in a skillet with butter and olive oil, salt and pepper.

Broa: the cornmeal bread of northern Portugal. Sweetish and heavy but crusty and satisfying – and wonderfully absorbent of tasty sauces.

Caldierada: a melange of freshly caught fish simmered in a soup-stew with whatever else is at hand, usually served with potatoes and fresh bread.

Formas con Laranja: tender waffles served with orange wedges.

Laranja: the sweet juicy oranges of Portugal. Those are enjoyed fresh in wedges or slices, scooped out and refilled with mixed fruits in the shells, or served in a sweet candy-syrup. Still another favorite is candied orange peel.

Medronho: a clear liqueur distilled from arbutus berries. Brandy mel is the same liquor with the addition of honey — easier to take. Neither is exported, hut are the specialty of the Algarve region.

Migas: a dish of pork fillets or chops surrounded by lard-soaked bread.

Paio: pork tenderloin that has been salted, smoked, and spiced.

Pao de Trigo: a bread of southern Portugal made with wholewheat flour, coarse and crusty and used to soak up sauces.

Papas de Frieiras: small sweet pastries with the earthy name of “nuns’ nipples.”

Percebos: local shellfish, similar to barnacles.

Porco con Ameijoas: one example of many types of casseroles combining pork and shellfish. Both these ingredients are prohibited by the dietary laws of both the Muslims and the Jews and are said to be typical of the dishes prepared and eaten during Inquisition days to prove “Christian zeal.”

Presunto: smoked ham.

Queijadas da Sintra: small cream-cheese and almond-paste tarts.

Queijo: cheese.

Sardinha Asada: grilled sardines.

Tortilha: omelet.

Vaca Estufada: beef stew with vegetables.

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